FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cal/OSHA reminds outdoor employers to prepare for summer heat
Oakland - As California heads into the hot summer months, Cal/OSHA urges all employers to revisit their injury and illness prevention programs and their emergency response procedures to make sure they are thoroughly prepared for heat waves.
"When the temperature rises into the high 90's and above, employers must take special precautions to protect employees whose work exposes them to these extreme temperatures," said Len Welsh, acting Cal/OSHA chief. "Heat illness can quickly progress to heat stroke and be fatal. It's crucial to know what to do in case of a medical emergency and to give employees the training they need."
Under the new heat illness regulation, employers are required to take four basic steps to prevent heat illness at all outdoor worksites: develop and implement written procedures on heat illness prevention; provide heat illness training to all employees; make readily available and encourage each employee to drink four 8-ounce cups of fresh water per hour; and provide immediate access to shade or any cool area out of the sun for recovery periods for at least five minutes at a time.
With the complete support of Governor Schwarzenegger, in 2005 California became the first state to develop a safety and health regulation to address heat illness. Cal/OSHA first developed an emergency regulation and after public input, finalized and implemented a permanent heat illness prevention regulation one year later to protect outdoor workers.
Summer was a sizzler in 2006. New records were set both for temperature highs and consecutive days of high heat. Though heat-related deaths rose for the state's general population last summer, heat-related deaths in the workplace were down one-third from 12 deaths in 2005 to 8 in 2006.
"Our goal is to continue the downward trend for employees who suffer heat-related deaths by strengthening our efforts to bring together government, industry, workers, communities, and the media get the word out about heat illness prevention " said Welsh.
For more information regarding heat illness prevention, free workshops and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA website at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/HeatIllnessInfo.
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