Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers to Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Illness
Oakland—Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and to review high temperature advisories and warnings in effect across California throughout the week. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings for temperatures forecasted to remain over 100 degrees in many inland parts of the state from today through Friday. Heat advisories for a period of hot weather are in effect today through Thursday in Mendocino and Lake Counties, many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and part of northern Los Angeles County.
California’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor workers, including those in agriculture, construction and landscaping. Other workers protected by the standard include those that spend a significant amount of time working outdoors such as security guards and groundskeepers, or in non-air conditioned vehicles such as transportation and delivery drivers.
Employers must assess each worksite and protect their workers from heat illness while also taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is currently widespread in the community and considered a workplace hazard. Employers should be attentive to allow enough space and time for employees to take breaks as needed in adequate shade while also maintaining a safe distance from one another. Extra infection prevention measures should be in place such as disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, including the water and restroom facilities.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, employers should provide cloth face coverings or allow workers to use their own. Cloth face coverings are not personal protective equipment, but may help prevent the spread of the disease. Employers should be aware that wearing face coverings can make it more difficult to breathe and harder for a worker to cool off, so additional breaks may be needed to prevent overheating. Agricultural and other outdoor workers are not encouraged at this time to use surgical or respirator masks as face coverings.
Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:
- Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
- Shade – Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.
Read more on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at work on Cal/OSHA’s webpage.
Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers and workers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.
Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).
Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Frank Polizzi at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR’s press releases or other departmental updates.