Summer is Coming! Preparing for Heat Illness Prevention

  • May 12 2017

Warm weather is on its way, and employers with outdoor places of employment should prepare now to ensure their employees have a safe workplace.  Heat illness is a serious medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load.  Heat illness can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, even death.  Many factors can lead to heat illness, including:

  • Exposure to high air temperature and relative humidity;
  • Exposure to radiant heat from the sun and other heat sources;
  • The severity and duration of an employee’s workload;
  • Wearing heavy protective clothing or uniforms; or
  • Employee’s age, weight, health and illnesses.

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, urges employers to prepare in advance for heat waves and to train employees to recognize the signs of heat illness.  Employers should prepare a written heat illness prevention plan and implement emergency response procedures.  In addition, employers should keep records of training and compliance efforts.

Under current law, the heat illness standard only applies to outdoor workplaces.  However, legislation enacted in 2016 requires Cal/OSHA to develop heat illness rules for indoor workers by January 1, 2019.  Employers should always take steps to provide a safe workplace for their workers.  Depending on the circumstances, some indoor workplaces may be hotter than the outside environment.

It is important employers familiarize themselves with California Code of Regulations, Title 8, section 3395 (Heat Illness Prevention), which contains the heat illness standard for employers with outdoor places of employment.  Some of the requirements include: providing ready access to free, cool, fresh water; providing a shaded rest area for workers to cool down when temperatures exceed 80 degrees; and preparing a heat illness prevention plan, and implementing emergency-response procedures for heat illness.

Failure to have a proper heat illness prevention plan that is specific to the worksite may result in a Cal/OSHA violation.  If you need help drafting a heat illness prevention plan specific to your workplace, or if you have questions about the heat illness standard, please contact our employment law attorneys at Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P.

By: Theodore Schneider, Esq. 

Posted in: Employment Law

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