IR #07-42
August 30, 2007

Kate McGuire
(415) 703-5279

Cal-OSHA reminds employers & workers how to avoid heat illness

Oakland – Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to train managers and supervisors on how to protect outdoor workers from heat illness, and that workers need to drink plenty of water and take breaks in the shade as temperatures continue to rise in many regions of the state.

"Although the Heat Illness Prevention Standard is in place for outdoor worksites, we encourage employers to go beyond minimum requirements and do whatever it takes to prevent work-related heat illnesses and fatalities among all their employees," said Len Welsh, Acting Chief of Cal/OSHA. "With exceptionally hot weather predicted for the next few days, we urge employers and employees to act now and do whatever it takes to be safe from the heat."

Under the heat illness regulation, employers are required to take four basic steps to prevent heat illness at all outdoor worksites including implementing a written heat illness prevention program; providing heat illness training to all supervisors and employees; making water readily available and encouraging each employee to drink four 8-ounce cups per hour; and providing access to shade or any cool area out of the sun for at least five minutes at a time to recover.

Here're some additional steps to take to avoid heat illness:

Acclimate: New employees who are unaccustomed to working under hot conditions are the most vulnerable. They must be monitored carefully and if possible, either begin work earlier in the day when it's cooler or gradually work up to a full schedule.

Ice it up: Use ice in your water and make it available for ice packs to cool the body.

Make sure everyone has a place to cool off: Use pop-up umbrellas or canopies to provide a shady rest area for those who work outdoors. Use fans or portable air conditioners to cool employees who work indoors.

Take extra breaks: Increase the number of water and cooling breaks and encourage employees to drink water.

Monitor: Implement a buddy system where workers and supervisors monitor one another.

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.

For other resources or more information on heat related illnesses please visit the Cal/OSHA website at

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