FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2009
As Heat-Waves Strike Many California Regions this Week,
Cal-OSHA Reminds Employers to Provide Heat Illness Prevention Training
Oakland, CA— Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to educate managers and supervisors on heat illness prevention to protect their workers as temperatures rise in many regions of the state. The national weather forecast predicts that temperatures will exceed 100 degrees in the Redding and Sacramento regions as well as many regions in the Central and Inland Valleys from Tuesday through Friday this week.
“It’s important that employers apply precaution and safety measures as required under California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard to all their employees to prevent occupational heat illnesses and fatalities,” said Len Welsh, Chief of Cal/OSHA. “It is especially important to track the weather and be ready for heat waves.”
Cal/OSHA investigations reveal that the risk of dying from heat illness appears to be highest for employees who are new on the job and not accustomed to working in extreme heat. The body needs to adapt gradually to exertions in the heat and humidity. Most people adjust to the weather or acclimate within four-to-14 days of regular work levels, according to Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention data.
Raising awareness is an important key in preventing heat illness. California Heat Illness Prevention Standards require mandatory training for employees and supervisors. Information on acclimatization, encouraging employees to continuously drink water throughout the day, and taking frequent cool-down breaks or preventative recovery periods in the shade, among other actions are included in the mandatory training.
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 or preventative recovery periods on hot days and encouraging employees to monitor each other for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
Cal/OSHA studies show effective reduction of heat illness depends on written procedures, access to water, access to cooler areas, acclimatization and weather monitoring, emergency response and employee and supervisor training.
Cal/OSHA enforcement increased 154% in 2008 with 2,583 heat-related inspections, compared to 1,018 in 2007. A total of 1,132 heat standard violations were found statewide last year, an 84% increase compared to the 614 violations cited in 2007.
Cal/OSHA inspectors conduct regular planned investigations of outdoor worksites and increase the number of inspections during periods of high heat. Enforcement remains a priority this year – a total of 1556 heat-related inspections have been conducted as of July 2nd, with a total of 427 heat standard violations cited. The heat standards most frequently violated by employers include failure to have a written heat illness prevention plan, and failure to provide employee training.
Under Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation addressing heat illness in 2005. Cal/OSHA issued permanent heat illness prevention regulations to protect outdoor workers in 2006.
For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
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