The Heat on Employers Rises As CALOSHA Amends Its Heat Illness Prevention Regulations

Effective May 1, 2015, if your business includes an “outdoor place of employment,” you must comply with each of the new regulation amendments promulgated by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (CalOSHA). These new amendments require immediate action by affected employers including, among other steps: (1) revision and provision of written policies covering heat illness prevention; (2) updates to training protocols and materials; and, (3) adoption of expanded workplace procedures, practices and protections in order to better prevent heat illness.

Although not an exhaustive listing of each regulation amendment, below are five key takeaways:

  1. All employers with “outdoor places of employment” must provide shade when the temperature reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit (previously 85 degrees). The shaded area must be large enough to accommodate the number of employees on cool-down, rest or meal periods. Of note, the following industries have a greater burden applicable when the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit: agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and transportation or delivery of agricultural, construction or other heavy materials.
  2. Employers must provide adequate water, at no cost to the affected employees. The water must be fresh, pure, suitably cool and located as close as practicable to the area(s) where the employees are working.
  3. Employers must encourage employees to take cool-down periods of at least five minutes (at 95 degrees, agricultural employers must ensure a 10-minute cool-down period every two hours). Employers must also monitor the employees taking cool-down periods – ask them if they are experiencing symptoms of heat illness and, if any employee exhibits symptoms of heat illness, the employer must take immediate action, including first aid or other appropriate emergency responses.
  4. At 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the affected industries must implement a new assortment of high-heat procedures including: (1) conducting paid pre-shift safety meetings to go over the company’s high-heat procedures (right to cool-down periods, drinking plenty of water, shade, etc.); and (2) implementing effective heat illness monitoring – i.e., having a supervisor assigned to observe 20 or fewer employees, a mandatory buddy system, regular communication with each employee, and designating one person at the worksite authorized to call for emergency services in the event of a case of heat illness.
  5. Employers must establish a written heat illness prevention plan in English and any other languages that will be understood by the employees. This plan must be made available at the worksite.
  6. To assist employers in their compliance scramble, CalOSHA has provided four critical sources of information:

    For questions regarding the amended heat illness prevention regulations, or any other employment law issue, contact any of our employment attorneys at LightGabler