Cal/OSHA Adopts Revised Heat Safety Regulations
California continues to be progressive in taking measures to keep employees safe while working outdoors in the heat. This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved revisions to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard. The modifications address high-heat procedure requirements for five industries, clarification of the shade requirement including temperature triggers, and the provision for flexibility to employers under this requirement.
“I commend the Board for its action today to strengthen workplace safety in this important area,” said Department of Industrial Relations Director John C. Duncan. “This is a critical part of our overall mission which includes enforcement, outreach, and forging partnerships to educate employers on their responsibilities and workers on their rights. Our ultimate goal here is to keep all outdoor workers safe in the heat.”
High-heat procedures are now required for five industries when temperatures reach 95 degrees or above. These procedures include observing employees, closely supervising new employees, and reminding all workers to drink water. The industries specified under this modification are: agriculture; construction; landscaping; oil & gas extraction; and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction material, or other heavy materials.
The clarification on shade requirements includes the following:
- Must be present when temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees. When temperatures are below 85 degrees, employers shall provide timely access to shade upon an employee’s request.
- Shade must be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.
- Allow for all industries excluding agriculture to implement alternative procedures for providing access to shade in instances where the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or unsafe to have a shade structure, or otherwise to have shade present on a continuous basis. The alternative procedures/cooling methods must provide equivalent protection as shade and can include methods such as misting machines.
“The amendments adopted today represent important measures to clarify and strengthen the heat illness prevention standard,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh.
The Office of Administrative Law now has 30 business days to approve the modifications. The revisions are expected to take effect this fall.
In 2005, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation to protect workers from heat illness. Labor Code Section 3395 went into effect in 2006. The regulations include providing employees with water, shade, and rest as well as heat illness training for employees and supervisors.