FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #07-31
July 2, 2007

CONTACT:
Kate McGuire
Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050


Cal-OSHA reminds employers to provide training on heat illness prevention

Oakland - Cal/OSHA is advising all employers to educate managers and supervisors on heat illness prevention to protect their workers as temperatures continue to rise in many regions of the state.

“It’s important that employers apply precautions and safety measures as required under California’s  Heat Illness Prevention Standard to all their employees  to prevent work-related heat illnesses and fatalities,” said Len Welsh, Acting Chief of Cal/OSHA. “It is especially important to track the weather and be ready for heat waves.” 

Educating supervisors and managers is critical. A Cal/OSHA case study of the heat-related fatalities that occurred in 2006 found that 63 percent of supervisors had not been educated on how to prevent heat illness. Often the symptoms are overlooked or ignored by both supervisors and the employees themselves. In addition, the same study found that 96 percent of the 2006 heat illness victims were dehydrated despite having drinking water available on the worksite.

New workers who have not been acclimated to work in hot temperatures are especially vulnerable, but all employees are at risk when a heat wave strikes and they are suddenly working in temperatures to which they are not accustomed. The Cal/OSHA study showed that the longer a heat wave continues, especially when nighttime temperatures do not decline significantly, the greater the risk that employees will succumb to heat illness. Employees who are taking certain medications can also be exceptionally vulnerable.

“All employers and workers should be responsible for their well-being and employers must be prepared to act quickly,” Welsh added. “The goal is to prevent heat illness, but if it happens, a fast, competent response can mean the difference between life and death.” Summer 2006 was a scorcher, but with Governor Schwarzenegger’s full support, California adopted and implemented the first-in-the-nation outdoor workplace heat illness prevention regulations, reducing heat-related deaths in the workplace by one-third -- from 12 in 2005 to 8 in 2006.   A copy of the Heat Illness Prevention regulations are attached.

For more information regarding heat related illness prevention, free workshops, training materials and a copy of the regulation, please visit our website at: www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness.

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Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders Group 2. Safe Practices and Personal Protection Article 10. Personal Safety Devices and Safeguards

§3395. Heat Illness Prevention

(a) Scope and Application. This section applies to the control of risk of occurrence of heat illness. This is not intended to exclude the application of other sections of Title 8, including, but not necessarily limited to, sections 1230(a), 1512, 1524, 3203, 3363, 3400, 3439, 3457, 6251, 6512, 6969, 6975, 8420 and 8602(e). This section applies to all outdoor places of employment.

Note No. 1: The measures required here may be integrated into the employer's Injury and Illness Program required by section 3203.

Note No. 2:This standard is enforceable by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health pursuant to Labor Code sections 6308 and 6317 and any other statutes conferring enforcement powers upon the Division. It is a violation of Labor Code sections 6310, 6311, and 6312 to discharge or discriminate in any other manner against employees for exercising their rights under this or any other provision offering occupational safety and health protection to employees.

(b) Definitions.

"Acclimatization" means temporary adaptation of the body to work in the heat that occurs gradually when a person is exposed to it. Acclimatization peaks in most people within four to fourteen days of regular work for at least two hours per day in the heat.

"Heat Illness" means a serious medical condition resulting from the body's inability to cope with a particular heat load, and includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope and heat stroke.

"Environmental risk factors for heat illness" means working conditions that create the possibility that heat illness could occur, including air temperature, relative humidity, radiant heat from the sun and other sources, conductive heat sources such as the ground, air movement, workload severity and duration, protective clothing and personal protective equipment worn by employees.

"Personal risk factors for heat illness" means factors such as an individual's age, degree of acclimatization, health, water consumption, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, and use of prescription medications that affect the body's water retention or other physiological responses to heat.

"Preventative recovery period" means a period of time to recover from the heat in order to prevent heat illness.

"Shade" means blockage of direct sunlight. Canopies, umbrellas and other temporary structures or devices may be used to provide shade. One indicator that blockage is sufficient is when objects do not cast a shadow in the area of blocked sunlight. Shade is not adequate when heat in the area of shade defeats the purpose of shade, which is to allow the body to cool. For example, a car sitting in the sun does not provide acceptable shade to a person inside it, unless the car is running with air conditioning.

(c) Provision of water. Employees shall have access to potable drinking water meeting the requirements of Sections 1524, 3363, and 3457, as applicable. Where it is not plumbed or otherwise continuously supplied, it shall be 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, as described in (e), shall be encouraged.

(d) Access to shade. Employees suffering from heat illness or believing a preventative recovery period is needed, shall 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 shall be permitted at all times. Except for employers in the agricultural industry, cooling measures other than shade (e.g., use of misting machines) may be provided in lieu of shade if the employer can demonstrate that these measures are at least as effective as shade in allowing employees to cool.

(e) Training.

(1) Employee training. Training in the following topics shall be provided to all supervisory and non-supervisory employees.

(A) The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;

(B) The employer's procedures for complying with the requirements of this standard;

(C) The importance of frequent consumption of small quantities of water, up to 4 cups per hour, when the work environment is hot and employees are likely to be sweating more than usual in the performance of their duties;

(D) The importance of acclimatization;

(E) The different types of heat illness and the common signs and symptoms of heat illness;

(F) The importance to employees 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;

(G) The employer's procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided should they become necessary;

(H) The employer's 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;

(I) The employer's procedures for ensuring that, in the event of an emergency, clear and precise directions to the work site can and will be provided as needed to emergency responders.

(2) Supervisor training. Prior to assignment to supervision of employees working in the heat, training on the following topics shall be provided:

(A) The information required to be provided by section (e)(1) above.

(B) The procedures the supervisor is to follow to implement the applicable provisions in this section.

(C) The procedures the supervisor is to follow when an employee exhibits symptoms consistent with possible heat illness, including emergency response procedures.

(3) The employer's procedures required by subsections (e)(1)(B), (G), (H), and (I) shall be in writing and shall be made available to employees and to representatives of the Division upon request.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.

HISTORY

1. New section filed 8-22-2005 as an emergency; operative 8-22-2005 (Register 2005, No. 34). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 12-20-2005 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

2. New section refiled 12-20-2005 as an emergency; operative 12-20-2005

(Register 2005, No. 51). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 4-19-2006 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

3. New section refiled 4-19-2006 as an emergency; operative 4-19-2006 (Register 2006, No. 16). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 8-17-2006 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

4. Certificate of Compliance as to 4-19-2006 order, including amendment of section heading and section, transmitted to OAL 6-16-2006 and filed 7-27-2006 (Register 2006, No. 30).