Outdoor Workers Subject to New Heat Illness Prevention Rule on May 1

davis-mel-cI have outdoor workers. How are recent heat illness prevention regulation revisions going to affect the way I do business?

On September 25, 2014, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board presented for public comment revisions to Section 3395, the heat illness prevention regulation. The comments resulted in modifications to the original proposal. On February 19, 2015, the proposal was adopted and submitted to the Office of Administrative Law.

The revised regulation takes effect on May 1, 2015.

Shade, Rest Requirement

The revisions, as they apply to all affected employers, now require shade to be available or provided when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The shade will be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working and sufficient enough to accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods, without the employees having to be in physical contact with each other. This shade requirement also applies during meal periods for employees who remain on site.

Employees are now permitted to take a preventative cool down rest in the shade, and are to be monitored and asked if they are experiencing symptoms of heat illness.

The regulation further specifies that the employer is to take/provide appropriate first aid or emergency response if the employee exhibits symptoms of heat illness.

High-Heat Procedures

The regulation section pertaining to high-heat procedures (temperatures exceeding 95 degrees Fahrenheit) has been extensively revised. The section requiring observing employees for symptoms of heat illness has been modified with specific requirements for observation and communication, and designating one or more employees to be responsible for contacting emergency services if the need arises.

Employers are now required to hold pre-shift meetings to review the high-heat procedures and stress the importance of drinking water and cooling down when necessary.

Agricultural Employers

The agricultural employer must comply with the high-heat regulation. An additional regulation specific to the agriculture industry has been added.

Agricultural employers will ensure that workers take a minimum 10-minute heat preventative “cool-down” rest period every two hours when temperatures reach 95 degrees or above.

This rest period may be provided concurrently with any other meal or rest period as required by the Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 14 (agricultural occupations) if these times coincide.

Emergency Response

Emergency response procedures are to be in place. Supervisors and workers are to be trained to recognize heat illness symptoms and take appropriate action.

There is to be effective means of communication on site, and other procedures to ensure effective care is administered when necessary.

Downloadable Guidance

A news release issued by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) contains links to the revised regulation, a guidance document, and enforcement questions and answers. The news release, dated April 7, is available at dir.ca.gov.

A side-by-side comparison of the previous and newly revised heat illness prevention regulation is available from HRCalifornia, www.calchamber.com and Cal/OSHA’s heat illness information page, www.dir.ca.gov.

The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Staff Contact: Mel Davis