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Protect Workers from Heat Hazards: New, Permanent Heat Illness Prevention Standard Now in Effect in California

August 16, 2006 — Too much exposure to heat can cause serious medical conditions including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To address these dangers, Cal/OSHA finalized a heal illness prevention standard that applies to all outdoor places of employment where certain risk factors for illness are present (http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html). The Permanent Heat Illness Prevention Standard became effective July 27 and immediately replaces the emergency standard in place since August 2005.

The risk factors addressed in the standard include high temperatures and relative humidity; radiant heat from the sun or other sources; conductive heat sources, such as the ground and air movement; workload severity and duration; and protective clothing and personal protective equipment worn by employees. Key elements of the Cal/OSHA Standard include:

  1. Provisions for Water – Employees must have access to potable drinking water, provided in sufficient quantity at the beginning of the work shift, to provide one quart per employee per hour for drinking for the entire shift. Employers may begin the shift with smaller quantities of water if they have effective procedures for replenishment during the shift, as needed, to allow employees to drink one quart or more per hour. The frequent drinking of water must be encouraged.
  2. Access to Shade – Employees suffering from heat illness or believing a preventative recovery period is needed, must be provided access to an area with shade that is either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling for a period of no less than five minutes. Such access to shade must be permitted at all times.
  3. Training and Education – Training and periodic review must be provided to all supervisory and non-supervisory employees on the following topics:
  4. The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;
  5. The employer’s procedures for identifying, evaluating, and controlling exposures to the environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;
  6. The importance of frequent consumption of small quantities of water – up to 4 cups per hour under extreme conditions of work and heat;
  7. The importance of acclimatization;
  8. Different types of heat illness and the common signs and symptoms of heat illness;
  9. The importance of immediately reporting to the employer, directly or through the employee’s supervisor, symptoms or signs of heat illness in themselves or in co-workers;
  10. The employer’s procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided should they become necessary;
  11. Procedures for contacting emergency medical services, and if necessary, for transporting employees to a point where they can be reached by an emergency medical service provider
  12. How to provide clear and precise directions to the work site. Prior to assignment to supervision of employees working in the heat, supervisors must not only receive training on the above topics but also on the procedures to follow to implement the applicable provisions of the regulation.

Additionally, supervisors must be trained on procedures to follow when an employee shows symptoms consistent with possible heat illness, including emergency response procedures.

Section 3395 includes definitions of terms referenced in the standard including acclimatization, heat illness, environmental risk factors for heat illness, and personal risk factors for heat illness, preventative recovery period, and shade.

State of California Resources:

Cal/OSHA: Heat-Related Illness Prevention and Information

Heat Illness on the Job (PDF and MP3 files in 8 languages)

Cal/OSHA Heat Advisory

U.S. Government Resources Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Frequently Asked Questions About Extreme Heat

CDC Safety Checklist OSHA “Quick Card” on Heat Stress (English/Spanish)

OSHA Fact Sheet: Working Outdoors in Warm Climates

For additional information, please contact:

Employers Insurance Group Loss Prevention Department: Hotline (800) 588-5200

or e-mail: lossprevention@eig.com

Neither this report, nor the survey that preceded it constitutes an undertaking on your behalf or for your benefit or for the benefit of others to determine that your workplace, operations, machinery or equipment are safe and healthful or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Adopting any recommendations transmitted in this report does not necessarily mean that you will be in compliance with any safety and health law, rule or regulation.