Cal/OSHA Gives Timely Heat Stress Reminders to Employers

Cal/OSHA is reminding employers that one of the best defenses against heat-related illnesses and fatalities is for employers to allow their workers to adjust to changes in weather--known as acclimatization. Giving new employees time to adjust to working in hot weather by gradually increasing their exposure and physical activity likely reduces the risk of heat related issues.

"We see a trend in the data that points to acclimatization as an important factor in the prevention of heat illness," said Len Welsh, acting Cal/OSHA chief. "It is especially critical to be vigilant with new workers."

According to Cal/OSHA data, the risk of dying from heat illness appears to be highest for employees who had just started working in extreme heat. The body needs to adapt gradually to exertions in the heat and humidity. Most people adjust to the weather or acclimate within four to 14 days of regular work levels.

The Heat Illness Prevention Standards require mandatory training for employees and supervisors that includes information on acclimatization, drinking one quart of water per hour, and taking cool-down breaks, among other actions. In addition, employers may consider starting the work day early and pacing work activities for their workers. Other prevention techniques include increasing the number of water and rest breaks on hot days and encouraging the use of a "buddy system" to monitor employees in the field.

For other resources or more information on heat-related illness prevention, free workshops, and training materials, visit www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness.

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