Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cal/OSHA Approves Revisions to Heat Illness Prevention Standard

Cal/OSHA has approved revisions to the state's heat illness prevention standard despite objections from employer groups.

The revisions adopted last week aim to specify the requirements for provision of shade and water, as well as ramping up requirements under high-heat provisions and adding new language on emergency response procedures, acclimation and training.

Some specifics include:

  • Water must be "fresh, pure, suitably cool" and located as close as practicable to where employees are working, with exceptions when employers can demonstrate infeasibility.
  • Shade must be present at 80 °F, instead of the current 85 °F, and must accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods, plus those on site who are taking meal breaks.
  • Employees taking a "preventive cool-down rest" must be monitored for symptoms of heat illness, encouraged to remain in the shade and not ordered back to work until symptoms are gone. Employees with symptoms must be provided appropriate first aid or emergency response.
  • Emergency response procedures must include effective communication, response to signs and symptoms of heat illness, and procedures for contacting emergency responders to help stricken workers.
  • Acclimation procedures must include close observation of all employees during a heat wave—defined as at least 80 °F. New employees must be closely observed for their first 2 weeks on the job.

The board requested that the state Office of Administrative Law approve an accelerated effective date of May 1, rather than July 1, which is when the changes would go into effect under normal circumstances.

For additional information and resources, visit California's Heat Illness Prevention site.