As temperatures are projected to hit triple digits across the state with prolonged heat waves, Cal/OSHA reminds employers with outdoor workers that shade must be made available at all times, and must be in place when temperatures reach 80 degrees or above.
The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and high heat advisories statewide, especially in inland areas. Periods of prolonged, widespread triple digit heat is expected to continue throughout the remainder of the season.
“Heat illness can be prevented, and providing access to shade and encouraging workers to take short breaks is one of the keys,” said Cal/OSHA Chief, Juliann Sum. “It also allows employers to monitor for signs of heat illness.”
Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cooldown rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.
Staying properly hydrated throughout the workday is one of the most effective heat illness prevention techniques. Cal/OSHA encourages all workers to drink at least one quart of water every hour, preferably sipping an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 minutes.
Drinks such as soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks or iced tea are not recommended for hydration. Also, the lingering effects of alcoholic beverages can contribute to quickly dehydrating the body in hot weather.
In addition to the basic steps outlined by California’s heat regulation for employers with outdoor workers, heat at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit requires additional precautions. Among other measures, it is crucial that workers are actively monitored for early signs of heat illness. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into serious illness or death.
In case a worker does get sick, supervisors and coworkers must be trained on the emergency procedures required to ensure that the sick worker receives treatment immediately and serious illness does not develop.
Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations throughout the heat season.
Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training program for California’s employers and workers. Online information on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.