Cal/OSHA has launched its 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Program to educate employers and workers on the risks of prolonged heat exposure at outdoor worksites.
The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California’s heat illness standard.
“Our partnerships with business and labor help us educate workers and employers alike on how to prevent heat illness injuries at outdoor worksites,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “Regular training is a key component of workplace safety.”
Baker said targeted inspections of outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping will be conducted throughout the heat season.
Here’s the Basics
Employers at outdoor work sites are required to ensure that basic precautions are followed:
- Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to hydrate frequently.
- Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down and recovery break.
- Ensure that workers “acclimatize” by gradually adjusting their bodies to high heat. This is especially important for new workers and during heat waves as temperatures may surge suddenly.
- Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, including training for supervisors and workers on steps to take if a worker shows signs of heat illness.
When temperatures reach 95 degrees, Cal/OSHA regulations require that special “High Heat” procedures be implemented. Supervisors must take extra precautions to mitigate risks to workers:
- 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 employment (to ensure safe acclimatization).
- Test communication systems to guarantee that emergency assistance can be reached if necessary.
Questions related to heat illness and safety or complaints should be directed to the Cal/OSHA district office in your region, where you may also file a confidential report. For assistance from Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.
Cal/OSHA continues its statewide public awareness campaign to educate outdoor worker populations in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Hmong, and Mixteco (language of natives of southern Mexico). The campaign combines outreach efforts with outdoor and radio announcements, distribution of printed materials and safety videos in the target languages.
The State of California Worker Information Hotline, toll free at 1-866-924-9757, provides recorded information in Spanish and English on a variety of work-related issues.