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A Closer Look at Cal/OSHA's Revised Heat Safety Standards

Today's workers' compensation defense post will discuss the revisions to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard approved by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in August and implemented just last month.

Specifically, these revisions are designed to combat the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke by providing California employers with further clarification regarding shade requirements and mandating that employers in certain industries adhere to specific "high-heat rules."

Cal/OSHA's clarification concerning shade requirements

  • If temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, shaded shelter capable of protecting at least 25 percent of on-shift employees from the sun must be provided and located as close to the worksite as possible. If temperatures are 85 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, employers must honor employee requests for shaded shelter in a timely manner.
  • If providing the aforementioned shaded shelter proves hazardous and/or unreasonable, an employer may utilize a different measure for providing access to shade so long as it provides the same level of heat protection.
  • If employers are able to provide the same level of heat protection, they may utilize alternative cooling measures - fans, air conditioning, etc. (Please note, this does not apply to employers in the agricultural sector.)

Cal/OSHA's 'High-Heat Rules'

  • It temperatures reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above, employers must take care to remind employees to consume water, monitor employees for indications of heat exhaustion/heat stroke and carefully observe all new employees.
  • These rules apply to employers in the following sectors: agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction and certain transportation/delivery industries.

"The amendments that became effective today represent important measures to clarify and strengthen the heat illness prevention standard," said Chief of Cal/OSHA Len Welsh. "Our efforts in enforcement, outreach and educational partnerships over the last five years have paid off. We have seen significant behavior change resulting in a compliance increase among employers inspected from 35 to 85 percent."

Employers must remain cognizant of the fact that California's sometimes high temperatures/dew points coupled with direct exposure to the sunlight, inadequate air circulation, excessive physical activity, and/or preexisting health conditions can create hazardous situations, resulting in potentially debilitating injuries to employees, decreased production and increased legal fees.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

Related Resources:

Cal/OSHA Implements Updated Heat Safety Regulations (California Division of Occupational Safety and Health)

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