As the 2016 heat season approaches, Cal/OSHA leaders urged stakeholders April 11 to take precautions and protect outdoor workers against heat-related illnesses, or worse.

Take Heat Precautions, Cal/OSHA Urges

"Employers at outdoor work sites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job," Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said. Cal/OSHA conducts inspections at outdoor work sites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping, and construction during heat season.

Warning that California heat can be expected to continue to shatter temperature records, as this year's heat season approaches, Cal/OSHA leaders urged stakeholders April 11 to take precautions and protect outdoor workers against heat-related illnesses, or worse. Training events in English and Spanish were held the same day, co-sponsored by the Nisei Farmers League and 11 other agricultural employers, as the agency sought to educate workers and explain the requirements of California's heat illness standard.

"Employers at outdoor work sites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job," Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said. "Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeting those employers who put their workers' safety at risk."

Cal/OSHA conducts inspections at outdoor work sites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping, and construction during heat season.

The standard require employers to take the following basic precautions:

  • Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Provide enough fresh water so each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  • Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool‐down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
  • Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
  • Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

According to the agency, the most frequent violation Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a proper written heat illness prevention plan specific to that work site. Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.

Questions about heat illness prevention should be directed to Cal/OSHA's Consultation Services Branch, which provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations; employers should call 800-963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.

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