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Are You and Your Employees Prepared for the Summer Heat?

As the spring weather continues to warm our employees potential exposure to Heat Illnesses is increasing.  With last year’s enhanced Cal/OSHA requirements, it’s good to review what must be in place to protect our employees from hot temperatures and comply with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard (§3395).

Remember, its “Heat” Illness not “Sun” Illness, this requirement applies to anyone, working inside or out, that may be exposed to temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  To review Cal/OSHA Enforcements Q&A for further details click here.  

Lets review some of the basic Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP) requirements.  Cal/OSHA Consultation provides additional HIPP guidance; click here to access the etools. 

Water – Water must be “potable” (i.e., free from odors, debris), provided in adequate amounts (enough for 4 cups per hour per employee), placed as close as practicable to where employees are working, and provided free of charge.

NOTE: If water is not provided in sufficient amounts at the beginning of the work shift, a replenishment procedure must be created to ensure there is enough water for the employee working.

Shade – Shade must be placed, or available, as close as practicable to where employees are working when temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit, provided in an amount to accommodate any number of employees on a recovery-rest break, meal break, or any other type of break, and allow employee to rest comfortably (i.e., not sitting so close employees are touching, sitting in the dirt, or any other condition that would deter an employee from taking a break)

NOTE: Shade must also be made available when the temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit upon request.

Rest – Employees must be encouraged and permitted to take a water break when they feel the need.  If it is communicated, or observed, that an employee is experiencing signs or symptoms of heat illnesses, they must remain resting in the shade, while being observed, until the signs or symptoms have subsided, but in no event less than 5 minutes.
Note: Agriculture has additional Rest Break requirements when the temperature is above 95 degrees.

Acclimatization – A system to ensure new, or returning, employees not accustomed to working in the heat must be established.  This system must take into account the work load, duration, number of breaks, and how the employee will be monitored.

Weather Monitoring – A method must be established to track the work site temperature to ensure employees are, or will be protected against hot temperatures above 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  Utilizing tools such as general weather forecasts (online, TV, radio, etc.) as well as site-specific readings taken with a thermometer

NOTE: If a Heat Wave is determined (temperature of the work day is 10 degrees hotter than the average 5 previous days) additional measures must be taken to protect employees.

High Heat Procedures – During times where the temperature is or exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit additional protective measures must be taken.  These measures include:

  • Ensuring effective Communication with employees
  • Methods to Observe employees
  • Assigning Designated Employees to contact emergency medical services
  • Ensuring employees are reminded about the importance of Water Consumption
  • Conduct Pre-Shift Meetings before the commencement of work to review the High Heat Procedures and their rights to take cool-down rests in the shade.

Emergency Rescue Procedures – In the event of a heat related emergency procedures must be established.  These procedures include:

  • Ensuring effective Communication by voice, observation, or electronic means
  • Designated employees to Contact Emergency Medical Services – employees also know they are permitted to call 911 in the event of an emergency without fear of retaliation.
    NOTE: In areas where cellular reception is intermittent, radios or another form of communication is required.
  • Employees need to know how to Respond to Signs or Symptoms including first-aid measures and monitoring
  • In the event of a heat related emergency, Directions are readily available to provide to EMS, which include streets, road names, distances from major roads, and distinguishing features.
  • Written Heat Illness Prevention Plan – Each worksite, regardless of the number of employees, must have a copy of the Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP).  The employees working on the site must know where it is located and how to access the Emergency Procedures included in it.  The written plan may be kept in paper form, or digitally.
    NOTE: The written HIPP must be available onsite at all times.  This includes any workdays where the temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Training your employees on the importance of water consumption, taking breaks in the shade, signs, symptoms, and affects of heat illnesses can save a life.  Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness training requirements include:

  • Risk Factors of Heat Illnesses 
  • Common Signs, Symptoms, & First-Aid Measures of Heat Illnesses 

In addition, employees must be trained on your site-specific Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP), which includes procedures for reporting potential heat illnesses, emergency procedures, and providing detailed directions to worksites for first responders.

If you have questions regarding your Heat Illness Prevention Plan or would like further employee or supervisor training information please contact Worklogic HR Risk Management.

Additional Resources:

Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention for Indoor Working Environments (English & Spanish)

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Disclaimer: The information and resources provided herein are not a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not constitute legal advice or attempt to address the numerous factual issues that inevitably arise in any employment-related dispute. Although this information attempts to cover some major recent developments, it is not all-inclusive, and any recommendations are based upon HR best practices and procedures. We recommend you consult an attorney for legal guidance.

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