Cal/OSHA's 2013 Heat Illness Program Under Way

The program educates workers and employers about the risks, Cal/OSHA inspections at outdoor work sites in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping will take place throughout the heat season.

Cal/OSHA launched its 2013 Heat Illness Prevention Program last week during a training program sponsored by Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League, and other agricultural employers. The program educates workers and employers on the dangers associated with heat exposure when working outdoors and on the state's heat illness prevention standard.

"California is a better place to work because of our standard and partnerships with employers and labor to protect all outdoor workers from heat illness. As we enter this year's heat season, it is important we continue our efforts to address heat illness prevention at outdoor worksites," said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, parent agency of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly called Cal/OSHA.

Cal/OSHA uses enforcement, outreach, and training to get the heat message across. "By following the basic preventive measures of providing adequate water, rest, shade, training and emergency procedures at every outdoor work site, we can avoid needless tragedies and make sure workers go home healthy after a hard day's work," said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. Her agency urges outdoor industries, which will face Cal/OSHA inspections during the heat season, to take these basic steps to protect their workers:

  • Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
  • Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.
  • Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break.
  • Ensure that workers are given enough time to get used to the heat, or “acclimatize” to the heat. This is especially important for new workers, as well as for all workers during a sudden heat wave.
  • Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the work site, with training for supervisors and workers.

When temperatures reach 95 degrees and workers are at greater risk, Cal/OSHA regulations require special "high heat" procedures and supervisors must take extra precautions:

  • Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  • Remind workers to drink water frequently.
  • Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of their employment (to ensure acclimatization).
  • Have effective communication systems in place to be able to summon emergency assistance if necessary.

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