Cal/OSHA Launches 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

The agency will conduct inspections geared to ensure that employers comply with the heat standard by providing adequate water, shade, rest breaks, worker training, and emergency preparations at outdoor worksites.

Cal/OSHA has launched its 2012 campaign to prevent worker deaths and illnesses due to heat exposure in all outdoor workplaces in California. The agency’s outreach to ensure worker safety will involve coordinated statewide inspections; local inspections during heat waves; trainings and presentations to employer and worker organizations; and a comprehensive public education campaign through print, radio, and other media.

“Despite the fact that heat-related incidents have decreased in California over the past three years, ensuring that California employers are taking every necessary precaution to keep their workers safe and healthy remains a top priority,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “Our nationally recognized campaign, now in its sixth year, has had very positive results in educating employers and workers about heat illness prevention.”

Cal/OSHA inspectors have started to inspect workplaces in the Imperial Valley, where temperatures have reached the high 80s. These inspections are geared to ensure that employers comply with the heat standard by providing adequate water, shade, rest breaks, worker training, and emergency preparations at outdoor worksites. Cal/OSHA will continue to conduct coordinated inspections across the state throughout the summer. Cal/OSHA offices will also launch regional inspections when local heat waves put workers at risk in outdoor industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping.

“We are pleased that years of continuous outreach, education, and enforcement have resulted in fewer worker deaths and illnesses from exposure to heat,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “But continued vigilance is absolutely necessary to ensure these gains continue. Basic things like ensuring that workers and their employers know the signs and symptoms of heat illness; that sufficient water, shade, and rest are provided; and effective emergency procedures are in place at outdoor worksites can make the difference between life and death.”

Cal/OSHA will be partnering with employer and worker organizations to leverage resources and extend the heat illness prevention message. Cal/OSHA’s campaign includes training partnerships with the agricultural, construction, and landscaping industries, insurance companies, and faith-based organizations. Last year, in the agriculture industry, Cal/OSHA helped train nearly 1,600 growers, farm labor contractors, and their supervisors who employed more than 400,000 workers.

In 2005, California was the first state in the nation to adopt heat illness regulations on an emergency basis. The regulations were made permanent in 2006 and there has been a marked increase in employer compliance since that time.

California’s heat illness prevention requirements were strengthened in 2010 to include a high-heat provision that five different industries—agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and transportation/delivery of agricultural products—must implement whenever temperatures reach 95 degrees. These requirements include observing employees, closely supervising new employees, and reminding all workers to drink water throughout their shift.

For more information on the heat illness prevention requirements and training materials, visit Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Web page.

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