Standards Board Keeps Moving on Proposed Indoor Heat Illness Standard

Mel DavisWhat is the status of Cal/OSHA’s indoor heat illness prevention standard?

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will soon hear the second revision of proposed Section 3396, Heat Illness Prevention in Indoor Places of Employment.

The genesis of this regulation began with the passing of SB 1167 in 2016, approved by then-Governor Jerry Brown and directing Cal/OSHA to adopt rules to protect indoor workers from heat-related illness and injury. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) held three advisory committee meetings to develop a proposed regulation to address the mandate of SB 1167.

A number of existing Title 8 regulations address related requirements relevant to factors to prevent heat illness, but none of them identify indoor heat as a hazard.

Examples of these regulations are sections 1512 (construction safety orders, emergency medical services), 3203 (Injury and Illness Prevention Program), 3395 (heat illness prevention for outdoor workers), 3400 (medical services and first aid), 6512 (emergency medical services in the petroleum industry), 6969 (mine safety orders, care of the injured), and 8420 (tunnel safety orders, care of the injured).

Latest Revisions

The following proposed revisions are the result of comments subsequent to the second 15-day notice and Cal/OSHA Standards Board staff consideration:

• Subsection (a)(1) exception (C) (scope): Does not apply to designated incidental exposures for specified time duration.

• Subsection (a)(1) exception (D)(scope): Emergency operation addressing protection of life or property.

• Subsection (a)(5) (scope): Deleted.

• Subsection (b)(11): Definition of “high radiant heat area.”

• Subsection (b)(12): New definition of “high radiant heat source.”

• Subsections (b)(13) through (b)(21): Renumbered.

• Appendix A: National Weather Service Heat Index Chart (2019).

Worth Noting

The regulation, when adopted, will be specific to all indoor work areas where the temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit or greater and there are employees present. There are, however, exceptions to the requirements such as when employees are working from home/teleworking, have limited exposure, or face imminent life-threatening situations.

The proposed regulation includes several new definitions, such as “clothing that restricts heat removal,” “cool down area,” “globe temperature” (referring to temperature taken with a specific type of thermometer), as well as other terms.

Copious amounts of water must be made available — a minimum of one quart per hour per exposed employee; the temperature or heat index, whichever is greater, is to be recorded (including time, date and location of measurement) and maintained; and all other environmental risk factors relating to heat illness noted.

The proposed regulation also addresses emergency procedures in the event of an incident, emergency contact information, and supervisor protocol if an incident is in progress or there is concern that an employee may be experiencing heat-related problems.

More Information

The complete proposal can be found at the Standards Board website for the new proposed indoor heat regulations:

Any written comments on the second 15-day notice were to be received by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board by 5 p.m. on November 28, 2023.

The proposal will be scheduled for adoption at a future business meeting of the Board.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. 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