FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #07-32
July 17, 2007

CONTACT:
Kate McGuire
(415) 703-5050


Cal/OSHA reminds employers that new workers need to acclimate to heat and humidity

Oakland - One of the best defenses against heat related illnesses and fatalities is for employers to allow their workers to adjust to changes in weather (known as acclimatization), according to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Giving new employees time to adjust to working in hot weather by gradually increasing their exposure and physical activity likely reduces the risk of heat related issues.

"We see a trend in the data that points to acclimatization as an important factor in the prevention of heat illness," said acting Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. "It is especially critical to be vigilant with new workers."

According to Cal/OSHA data, the risk of dying from heat illness appears to be highest for employees who had just started working in extreme heat.
The body needs to adapt gradually to exertions in the heat and humidity. According to Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention data, most people adjust to the weather or acclimate within four-to-14 days of regular work levels.

"It is imperative to monitor your employees at all times during hot weather and allow those who are new to working in hot weather to gradually adapt to the daily routine," said Welsh.

Raising awareness is a key in preventing heat illness. The Heat Illness Prevention Standards require mandatory training for employees and supervisors that includes information on acclimatization, drinking one quart of water per hour and taking cool-down breaks, among other actions.

In addition to the requirements outlined in the heat illness prevention regulations (section 3395 of Title 8), employers may consider starting the work day early and pacing work activities for their workers. Other prevention techniques include increasing the number of water and rest breaks on hot days and encouraging the use of a "buddy system" to monitor employees in the field.

Employees who work indoors should take the same precautions as those who work outdoors in extreme heat, and follow similar measures under (section 3203 of Title 8) their employers' Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

Summer was a sizzler in 2006. But with Governor Schwarzenegger's full support, California adopted and implemented the first-in-the-nation outdoor workplace heat illness prevention regulations, reducing outdoor heat-related deaths in the workplace by one-third - from 12 in 2005 to 7 in 2006.For other resources or more information on heat related illness prevention, free workshops and training materials please visit our website at: www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness

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