Heat Illness: Water. Shade. Rest.

With weather temperatures heating up and as we approach the summer months, the Cal/OSHA slogan “Water. Shade. Rest” is imperative.  In general heat related illnesses include the following:

  1. Heat Stroke
  2. Heat Exhaustion
  3. Heat Cramps
  4. Heat Rash

The severity of symptoms pertaining to heat illnesses vary with early signs including, fatigue, heavy sweating, headaches, cramping, dizziness and vomiting.  Cal/OSHA asserts that life-threatening symptoms include high body temperature, red/hot/dry skin, confusion, convulsions and fainting.

Cal/OSHA reminds California employers of the following requirements when it comes to preventing employees from heat illnesses:

  1. Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
  2. Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8 ounce glasses, of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  3. Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
  4. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor Places of Employment Standard (8 CCR 3395).

Regarding indoor heat illness you may recall reading our updates over the last couple of years pertaining to the status of the California Indoor Heat Standard which was first proposed in 2017.  According to the Cal/OSHA website there have been no new updates regarding the proposed Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Standard since April 2019.  It was anticipated back in 2019 that this latest draft may be sent to the Standards Board for a vote, however the timing of when that will occur is currently unknown.  The standard is now being held up due to a required fiscal impact review which is mandated by law.  This review is being performed by a contractor and it is unclear how long it will take before the review process is complete.  Once the review is complete, the standard will be sent to the Standards Board.

There is no indication that the standard will undergo any further changes.  The most recent draft of California’s Indoor Heat Standard applies to all indoor work sites with the following conditions:

  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.

The draft also states that employers will use control measures to minimize the risk of heat illness.  Those control measures are Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls and Personal Heat-Protective Equipment.  The selection of control measures used are based on the environmental risk factors for heat illness present in the work area.

You can find a full copy of the proposed Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Standard at this link: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/doshreg/Heat-Illness-Prevention-Indoors/Draft-revisions-Apr-22-2019.pdf.  As always, we will keep you informed of any changes to the proposed Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Standard.