Cal/OSHA Implements Updated Heat Safety Regulations

                               Oakland, CA (CompNewsNetwork) - As a national leader in workplace safety, Cal/OSHA today implements updated safety standards for employees working in outdoor heat.  The revisions to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard, approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on Aug. 19, became effective today. The revised standards provide clarification of the shade requirement, including temperature triggers and address high-heat requirements. 

“Today we continue as a national safety leader in strengthening the standards that safeguard outdoor workers,” said Department of Industrial Relations Director John C. Duncan.  “Fostering behavior change is a key step to ensure a safer work environment. Our practice of measuring those behavioral changes is one that should be viewed by other states and OSHA as a useful method for gauging the impact of our efforts.”

Shade Requirements

  • Must be present to accommodate 25% of the employees on the shift at any time when temperatures exceed 85 degrees, and located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.  When temperatures are below 85 degrees, employers shall provide timely access to shade upon an employee's request.
  • Shade must be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.
  • Where the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or unsafe to have a shade structure, or otherwise to have shade present on a continuous basis, the employer may utilize alternative procedures for providing access to shade if the alternative procedures provide equivalent protection.
  • Except for employers in the agriculture industry, cooling measures other than shade may be provided in lieu of shade if the employer can demonstrate that these measures are at least as effective as shade in allowing employees to cool.

High-Heat Rules

  • High-heat procedures are now required for five industries when temperatures reach 95 degrees or above.  These procedures include observing employees, closely supervising new employees and reminding all workers to drink water.  The industries specified under this modification are:
    1. Agriculture
    2. Construction
    3. Landscaping
    4. Oil and gas extraction
    5. Transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction material or other heavy materials 

“The amendments that became effective today represent important measures to clarify and strengthen the heat illness prevention standard,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “Our efforts in enforcement, outreach and educational partnerships over the last five years have paid off. We have seen significant behavior change resulting in a compliance increase among employers inspected from 35 to 85 percent.”

Under the leadership of Governor Schwarzenegger, in 2005, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation to protect workers from heat illness. Labor Code Section 3395 became effective in 2006.  The regulations include providing employees with water, shade and rest as well as heat illness training for employees and supervisors.

Cal/OSHA is the employee health and safety division of the Department of Industrial Relations.  For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness. Educational materials including a safety DVD on heat illness prevention are also available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi and Mixteco on the Calor Web site, at http://www.99calor.org/english.html.

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