California’s law has made heat prevention a number one priority for the state. Starting May 2015, employers must follow the regulations adapted by the state legislature. We all know that laws and regulations can be confusing, and hard to read. Therefore, we have taken this new regulation and broken it down to the basics for your benefit. So here is the need-to-know about the new regulations.
Who has to follow it?
According to the regulations, these rules apply to agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil & gas extraction, and transportation/delivery companies. Any business whose employees may encounter high temperatures while working is going to subject to these regulations.
What is regulated?
The document is broken up into categories to make clear what is covered by this regulation.
Employers are required to provide their employees with fresh, pure and suitably cool water free of charge. Water stations must be located close to the working area, and enough water must be provided that each employee can have one quart per hour for the entire shift.
Definition: blockage of direct sunlight. One indicator that blockage is sufficient is when objects do not cast a shadow in the area of blocked sunlight. Shade is not adequate when heat in the area of shade defeats the purpose of shade, which is to allow the body to cool. For example, a car sitting in the sun does not provide acceptable shade to a person inside it, unless the car is running with air conditioning. Shade may be provided by any natural or artificial means that does not expose employees to unsafe or unhealthy conditions and that does not deter or discourage access or use.
Shade is required if the temperature is 80°F or greater. The shaded area has to be large enough to fit all the employees comfortably. Employees must be free to access the shade at any time to cool down if they begin to feel overheated. Exceptions: if an employer can provide other ways to cool employees (like an air conditioned area) that is acceptable to replace shade.
High Heat Procedures
High heat procedures must be in place for when the temperature is 95°F or greater. Procedures must be in place for:
- Communication – between employees and employers
- Observation – by a supervisor, the buddy system, or regular communication with individuals
- Emergency roles – who is going to do what in case of an emergency
- Hydration – remind employees to drink water regularly
Meetings should be held before shifts to review the procedures. Special instructions for agriculture require employees to have a 10 minute cool down and rest period every two hours.
Emergency Response Procedures
This section basically requires a business to have a plan in place in case a heat illness emergency (like heat stroke) occurs. Things it includes: communication, response, action and responsibilities.
Definition: temporary adaptation of the body to work in the heat that occurs gradually when a person is exposed to it. Acclimatization peaks in most people within four to fourteen days of regular work for at least two hours per day in the heat.
The acclimatization must be observed by a supervisor for employees during a heat wave or for employees that are newly assigned to a high heat area. Observation must continue for 14 days.
Employees and Employers must be trained for heat illness. Supervisor will have extra training. Topics covered in training include:
- Environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness
- Proper water consumption
- Types, signs, symptoms and responses to heat illness
- Reporting signs or symptoms of heat illness
- Procedures for contacting emergency medical services
- Emergency protocols
That’s it. The regulation can be very easy to understand. It doesn’t require a whole lot, yet it is going to go a long way in heat illness prevention. These little changes a requirements will ensure workers stay safe in the extreme heat of summer. By understanding and adapting even some of these regulations, you can help prevent heat related illness and save lives.
The full code of regulation can be read here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html