Cal/OSHA Seeks Emergency Amendments To The Heat Illness Prevention Standard

Sacramento, CA (CompNewsNetwork) - The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) in conjunction with its Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, has requested that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) adopt emergency amendments to the current heat illness prevention standard, section 3395 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

"We are now in our fourth year of enforcing this standard, which was enacted to protect outdoor employees from the hazard of heat illness," said DIR Director John C. Duncan. "We have found from our enforcement activities that there is a need for the standard to be clarified so that more employers will comply fully and effectively with its provisions."

Cal/OSHA enforcement statistics collected from the brief periods of hot weather experienced in the state this year have demonstrated that substantive changes to clarify the regulation are necessary to ensure that employers have the guidance they need to protect employees working outdoors from exposure to heat.

Public awareness of the heat illness prevention regulations has increased as a result of education and outreach efforts by Cal/OSHA in partnership with labor, industry and community partners. However, Cal/OSHA is requesting that the OSHSB adopt the emergency amendments to the standard in order to bring more specificity and enforceability to the standard.

The proposed amendment will:

    * clarify the provisions that govern when and how to provide shade, drinking water and employee training,
    * add tiered procedures to be followed when temperatures are above 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit,
    * add related requirements to implement feasible and effective measures for the protection of employees working outdoors, and
    * eliminate the definition of "preventative recovery period."

"Although most employers of outdoor worksites are now on board with the need to provide safeguards to their workers, some employers still fail to comply," said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. "Last month in a two week period we required eight employers to cease their operations because their failure to provide the most basic protection to their workers from heat far in excess of 90 degrees exposed them to an imminent hazard."

A public hearing to discuss the proposed amendment to the heat illness prevention regulation, Section 3395 of the Title 8 California Code of Regulations has been scheduled by the OSHSB to take place at their next meeting on June 18 in Oakland.

If the emergency amendments are adopted, they will be sent to the State Office of Administrative Law for approval and then to the Secretary of State for filing. A 120 day standard rulemaking process will follow to develop permanent amendments to the heat illness prevention regulations.

In July 2006, the heat illness prevention regulation became permanent, making California the first state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive heat illness prevention standard for outdoor workers. 

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