AS SUMMER approaches employers with outside workers need to make sure that they are in compliance with Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard to protect their employees, and also to avoid being cited.
Over the years the heat illness standard has evolved as more is learned about how heat illness works. The following covers the major elements of the standard.
Access to water
• Locate the water containers as close as practicable given the working conditions and layout of the worksite.
• Keep it readily accessible, move it with the workers!
• Encourage the frequent drinking of water.
• Remind workers not to wait until they are thirsty.
Shade up at 85 degrees
• When temperatures reach 85, you must have and maintain one or more areas of shade at all times, when employees are present.
• Locate the shade as close as practical to the area where employees are working.
• Provide enough shade to accommodate at least 25% of the employees on the shift at any one time. However, retain the ability to permit access to all workers that request it at all times.
When the temperature equals or exceeds 95 degrees:
• Ensure effective communication.
• Observe employees for alertness and signs and symptoms of heat illness.
• Give more frequent reminders to drink plenty of water.
• Closely supervise new employees, for the first 14 days.
Ensure all employees and supervisors are trained before beginning work that should reasonably be anticipated to result in a heat illness. Make sure all employees and supervisors are trained in:
• The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness, as well as the added burden of heat load on the body
• Your company’s heat illness prevention procedures
• Importance of frequent consumption of small quantities of water
• Types of heat illness, common signs and symptoms
• Importance of acclimatization
• Reporting signs or symptoms of heat illness to a supervisor
• Procedures for responding to possible heat illness
• Procedures to follow when contacting emergency medical services, providing first aid, and if necessary transporting employees.
• Integrate your procedures into the IIPP.
• Maintain the procedures on site or close to the site, so that they can be made available to employees and Cal/OSHA inspectors.
• You can find sample procedures here: www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ESPHIP.pdf