Ag Today June 22, 2017

Cal/OSHA reminds employers to protect workers during heat wave

For the Register, Jun 21, 2017

During the heat wave across the state, Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions.

Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California, said a Cal/OSHA news release.

The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually high temperatures throughout the state. In Napa, the temperature was expected to hit 98 degrees on Wednesday, then peak at 101 degrees on Thursday before dropping into the 80s. Upvalley locations will be hotter.

“California rules are very clear on how employers must protect their workers from heat illness,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

“Our goal is to prevent deaths and serious illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to heat.”

Special attention must be given to new employees who have not been acclimatized to working under hot conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to heat illness, said the release.

When temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, employers are required to implement high heat procedures to ensure outdoor workers are protected.

Procedures include effective monitoring of all workers through methods such as a mandatory buddy system for workers or regular communication with workers who work alone.

California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard requires employers to train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, develop emergency response procedures and train workers on how to execute those procedures when necessary.

Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations throughout the heat season.

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training for California’s employers and workers.

Employers should call 800-963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.