Changes to Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Standard

On April 22, 2019, another draft of the proposed Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Standard was published, which can be found on the Cal/OSHA website. No further changes have been proposed and it is anticipated this latest draft may be sent to the Standards Board for a vote. However, when the draft will be sent over is unknown. According to the most recent draft of California’s Indoor Heat Standard, the standard applies to all indoor work sites with the following conditions are subject to this rule:

  1. The temperature equals or exceeds 87 degrees Fahrenheit when employees are present; or
  2. The heat index equals or exceeds 87 degrees Fahrenheit when employees are present; or
  3. Employees wear clothing that restricts heat removal and the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit; or
  4. Employees work in a high radiant heat work area and the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Employers may comply with the rule by including its various elements within the employer’s Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP).

Another revision made to the latest draft was the definition of radiant heat. The previous version stated “Radiant Heat” means heat transferred from one body or object to another not in contact with it by electromagnetic waves rather than by conduction or convection. It now states “Radiant Heat” means heat transmitted by electromagnetic waves and not transmitted by conduction or convection.

Regarding the use of control measures rather than engineering controls to minimize the effect of heat, Cal/OSHA has added, “The employer may use administrative controls in lieu of engineering controls if the employer demonstrates that the administrative controls can minimize the risk of heat illness more effectively than engineering controls.” One common administrative control is reducing the time employees are exposed to the heat source. This method of control appears to remain acceptable.

Federal OSHA had no indoor or outdoor heat illness prevention standard. California is not the only U.S. State that has adopted standards for heat exposure. Minnesota’s standard applies to indoor ventilation and temperature places of employment and the state of Washington standard applies to outdoor heat exposure rule. In addition, the state of Maryland introduced senate bill 434 on January 27, 2020 requiring the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to adopt heat stress regulations, on or before October 1, 2022.

Feel free to contact our office if you would like to hear about the other items in the proposed language not described in this article. The Cohen Group will continue to provide updates as this standard moves forward.