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Support California leading the nation in heat illness prevention

Posted on Sep 17, 2014
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White_and_Red_Thermometer_250x250Join Worksafe’s efforts to strengthen worker protections from heat illness: Sign our letter by September 24th!

After surviving last weekend’s heat spell, it’s easy to appreciate the importance of protecting the people who work outside every day in the hot sun -- harvesting and packing food, landscaping communities, building houses, parking or washing cars, directing traffic, or doing road repairs.

Every year in California, at least 600 people experience some kind of heat-related illness on the job. So far this year, at least three have died. That’s with the current heat illness prevention standard in place.

WE ONLY HAVE A FEW DAYS LEFT to voice our support for proposed improvements to that standard, by providing comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Standards Board”).

Cal/OSHA gave the Standards Board proposed changes with stronger and clearer language about what employers must do to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths. They’re based on Cal/OSHA’s experience in enforcing the current standard and the feedback they got at two public advisory meetings in the last year.

Click here for more information about the rule-making from the Standards Board.

We support most of the proposed changes and have identified a few places where the rules could be made even stronger.

Some of the key proposed changes include:
• Requiring employers to develop and implement an overall “heat illness prevention plan” that is accessible to employees in the predominant language of the workforce;
• Expanding worker training rules to include more about their rights, symptoms of heat illness, and how their employer’s program works;
• Improving the requirements for access to shade and cool water free of charge -- although these could be improved;
• Lowering the threshold for high heat procedures from 95°F to 85°F;
• Requiring supervisors be trained and responsible to take immediate action when an employee shows signs or symptoms of heat-related illness, with clearer duties to provide first aid and call for emergency medical services;
• Mandating paid 10-minute recovery breaks for agricultural workers every two hours when temperatures reach 95°F.

SUPPORT WORKSAFE’S EFFORTS to better protect people who work outdoors from heat illnesses by signing on to our group letter to the Standards Board or writing your own; the deadline to sign our letter is Wednesday, September 24th. The deadline to submit your own letter or to testify in person in San Diego is September 25th.

Contact Gail Bateson at GBateson@worksafe.org or 510-302-1011 to sign on, for a copy of our sign-on letter, or for other details on the hearing.

For additional information about heat illness prevention in California, and our work on this important issue, click here.

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