Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers with outdoor workers to review high heat advisories in effect across California as we head toward warmer weather.

Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. To prevent heat illness, the law requires employers to provide outdoor workers fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees and whenever requested by a worker, cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks and maintain a written prevention plan with training on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency. 

In certain industries, when the temperature at outdoor worksites reaches or exceeds 95 degrees, Cal/OSHA’s standard requires additional protections. The industries with high-heat requirements are agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction and transportation of agricultural products, construction materials or other heavy industrial and commercial products. High-heat procedures include ensuring employees are observed regularly for signs of heat illness and establishing effective communication methods so workers can contact a supervisor when needed.

While taking steps to protect their workers from heat illness, employers must also have a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at each worksite.

Supervisors and workers must be trained on the signs and symptoms of heat illness so that they know when to take steps that can prevent a coworker from getting sick. Employers must also evaluate each worksite and make sure their workers know their procedures for contacting emergency medical services, which includes directing them to the worksite if needed.

Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness: 

Prevention Steps

  • Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
  • Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
  • Shade – Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. 

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.

Predictions for Southern California weather this summer are trending that temperatures will be hotter than normal. The hottest periods will be in mid-June, mid- to late July, and mid- to late August. September and October will bring temperatures close to normal and be a bit drier than usual.

Computer models show that sea surface temperatures over both the Gulf of Alaska and off the West Coast will warm May and June. Therefore, high pressure will most likely set up just off the West Coast once again. This will bring above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. The amount of Santa Ana wind events will likely be near to below normal in March and April. The marine layer over the coastal areas will likely be shallower and not penetrate as far inland as normal in May and June.

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers and workers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424. Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHAdistrict offices.