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Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers of Heat Illness Risks


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By: California Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA)

Oakland, June 26, 2013 - Cal/OSHA reminds all employers with outdoor workers to protect their workers as temperatures are expected to reach record levels, rising to the triple digits in both Northern and Southern California over the next six days.

"With temperatures expected to be from 10-20 degrees above average across the entire state through July 2nd, workers and employers alike are reminded to take extra precautions. Rest, water and shade are absolutely essential in high heat conditions," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

"Cal/OSHA will be out in force throughout the state, reviewing outdoor worksites to ensure that employers are following heat illness prevention regulations," said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. "Employers should be especially aware of the need for workers to be acclimatized to the very high heat conditions."

California's heat regulations require all employers with outdoor workers take basic steps to protect their workers:

Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention before work begins.
Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently.
Provide a readily accessible shaded area for workers to take a cool down recovery break, and provide rest breaks when workers request them.
Ensure that workers are given enough time to adjust, or "acclimatize" to the heat. This is especially important for new workers and for all workers during a sudden heat wave. This step can mean the difference between life and death.
Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on the steps to take if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

Special "High Heat" procedures are also required when temperatures reach 95 degrees. Since workers are at greater risk, 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.
Ensure effective emergency procedures are in place in case workers become ill.
Employers may want to adjust work schedules to avoid the peak heat times of the day. In all cases, employers need to be extremely vigilant.

Visit Cal/OSHA's Heat Illness web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site for online information on the heat illness prevention requirements, training materials in multiple languages, and bilingual training sessions for employers and workers. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is available on Cal/OSHA's website, and more information can be found on DIR's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Cal/OSHA's Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.

Employees with workplace safety questions or complaints, including heat illness, can contact the Cal/OSHA district office in their region to file a confidential report. Recorded messages in English and Spanish detailing resources for California workers are also available toll free at 1-866-924-9757.

 

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