Preventing and Responding to Heat Illness
Elements of Your Written Program and Effective Work Practices
WORK SEVERITY AND DURATION
T8CCR 3395(b) Definitions states the following:
“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.
T8CCR 3395(h) Training states the following:
(1) Employee training. Effective training in the following topics shall be provided to each supervisory and non-supervisory employee before the employee begins work that should reasonably be anticipated to result in exposure to the risk of heat illness:
(A) The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness, as well as the added burden of heat load on the body caused by exertion, clothing, and personal protective equipment.
Guidance, Best Practices and Warnings
In order to prevent heat illness it is important to allow the body to cool down. By stopping physical work activities and replacing them with rest the body cools down. Providing cooling allows the body’s internal temperature to come closer to the "normal range" (i.e., within a very narrow temperature range above or below 98.6 °F). Also, as the body cools heart rate and respiration slow down. The body cools during resting by:
- drinking water (see Sufficient Amounts of Drinking Water) and
- resting in adequate shade or using alternative measures which have been demonstrated to be equally effective (see Shade and Other Cooling Measures)
A rest break is not the same as a preventative cool down rest period (CDRP). Cal/OSHA requires that employees be given a CDRP if they are suffering from heat illness, or believe they need a CDRP (see Cool Down Rest Periods). Regular rest breaks help cool the body to eliminate the need for a CDRP. They involve alternating normal work activities with regularly scheduled rest breaks.
Work Severity and Duration Adjustments
In warm or hot weather and during high heat or a heat wave try to:
Be aware that In spite of these measures heat illness can still develop.
In addition to making work severity and duration adjustments, during high heat or a heat wave it may be necessary to take additional measures to prevent Heat Illness (see Extra Measures During High Heat; see Acclimatization).
The judgment and experience of supervisors or other designated person(s) who are at the worksite is vital when scheduling regular rest breaks. The timing, frequency, and length of these breaks needs to be based on:
Remember, healthy employees are far more productive throughout the work shift and are also much less likely to develop heat illness or become injured. Ensure that your employees take their regularly scheduled breaks (and frequently drink sufficient amounts of water). It is important to: