FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2008
Cal/OSHA Reminds ALL California Employers to Have a Heat Illness Prevention Program in Place
Oakland, June 19, 2008—As California heads into the hot summer months, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health--also known as Cal/OSHA--urges all employers to have in place their Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and their emergency response procedures to make sure they are thoroughly prepared for heat waves.
"It cannot be overstated how important it is to track weather information in real time and to be ready for extraordinary heat," said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. "Whenever temperatures start to rise into the high 90's and above, it's time to pay close attention to the effects of the heat on employees who don't work in air-conditioned environments--particularly those who engage in physical or strenuous activity."
Under the heat illness prevention regulation, employers are required to take four basic steps to prevent heat illness at all outdoor worksites that include developing and implementing written procedures on heat illness prevention, and providing heat illness training to all employees--especially those who are not proficient in the English language.
In addition, employers must provide their employees accessible, clean drinking water and proper shade or cooling areas. They should encourage each employee to drink four 8-ounce cups of fresh water per hour.
For employees working outdoors, the hot sun with high temperatures can be life-threatening. Some early symptoms and signs of heat illness to watch for are headaches, muscle cramps and unusual fatigue.
If they’re untreated, these symptoms can rapidly progress to nausea and/or vomiting, weakness, excessive sweating or hot dry skin, mental confusion, seizures, and fainting or loss of consciousness.
Employees who work indoors should be protected with similar measures under their employers' Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
In 2005, with Governor Schwarzenegger's full support, California adopted and implemented the first-in-the-nation outdoor workplace heat illness prevention regulations to protect employees from injuries and deaths from heat illness exposure.
Cal/OSHA offers employers free consultative services and is glad to help them reevaluate their Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. Also, please visit our website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html for more information regarding heat illness prevention, free workshops and training materials.
# # #