The California Department of Industrial Relations, in conjunction with Cal/OSHA, announced amendments to the current heat illness prevention regulations. The new law became effective May 1, 2015. According to the DIR, the new heat illness prevention requirements offer additional safeguards for outdoor workers. Revisions to the heat illness prevention regulation include the following:
- Water must be pure, suitably cool, and provided free to workers. It must be located as close as practicable to where employees are working so they can hydrate frequently during their shift. The employer must provide each employee with a minimum of one quart of water per hour for the entire shift.
- When temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (prior regulation specified 80 degrees), shade is required for all workers on break, and for all those who take their meal periods onsite. For climates cooler than 80 degrees, shade must still be made available upon request.
- Workers who take cool-down rest breaks must be monitored and asked if they are experiencing heat illness symptoms.
- High-heat procedures (when temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit) now include new employee monitoring requirements and mandatory pre-shift meetings to review high heat procedures, encourage employees to drink plenty of water, and remind employees of their right to take a cool-down rest break when needed.
- High-heat procedures have been modified for the agriculture industry to mandate one 10-minute preventative cool-down rest break every two hours when temperatures equal or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Employers must ensure that supervisors and workers are adequately trained to recognize and react to heat illness signs or symptoms and how to contact emergency medical services.
- Any workers who display or report any signs or symptoms of heat illness, must not be left alone or sent home without being offered on-site first aid or emergency medical services.
- All workers must be closely observed during a heat wave.
- Any worker newly assigned to a high-heat area must be observed by a supervisor or designee during the first 14 days of employment.
- Training must be provided for all outdoor workers before starting any work involving heat illness risk. The training must be presented in a language that employees understand, and must be documented.
The amendment increases the requirements of heat illness prevention plans. If you would like us to review your current heat illness prevention plan for compliance with the new standards, or to assist you in creating a compliant plan, please contact the employment law attorneys at Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P.