Cal/OSHA Applies Heat on Employers to Prevent Heat Illness

Outreach and education events aimed at protecting workers from heat illness have increased over the first six months of this year as has enforcement of the nation's first heat illness prevention regulations, according to figures released by California's Department of Industrial Relation's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). The department reported it is on pace to exceed the number of heat illness prevention inspections, with 659 heat-related inspections to date in 2008 compared to 1,018 for all of 2007.

Cal/OSHA has issued more than 242 citations since the summer began, primarily for failing to have written heat illness prevention plans. During heat waves, special compliance teams are dispatched to outdoor work sites to ensure workers are being properly protected. The Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Department of Industrial Relations are working with the attorney general and local district attorneys to build criminal cases against employers who disregard the law and the DIR's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will pursue license revocation where necessary. Cal/OSHA inspectors have issued two stop-work orders to employers this year for continued failure to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

In addition to the enforcement activities, Cal/OSHA has conducted heat illness seminars, on-site consultations, and outreach events throughout the state. Cal/OSHA has conducted 380 heat illness seminars so far this year compared to 284 for all of 2007. On June 9, LWDA sent letters to all 106,261 California employers with outdoor operations reminding them of their responsibilities under the heat illness regulations.

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