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Hot In Here: Workers Demand Strong Protections from Indoor Heat Hazards

Posted on Jun 28, 2017

7Too many California workers toil for long hours in very hot indoor environments – sometimes without access to clean water or adequate ventilation, even in the peak of summer. These workers are vulnerable to heat-related illness: health conditions that can range from heat exhaustion to deadly heat stroke. Workers in restaurants, warehouses, garment factories, and industrial laundries are particularly prone, though indoor heat hazards pose a serious risk in many other industries across the state.

In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1167 – a bill directing Cal/OSHA to protect workers from indoor heat exposure by January 2019. Worksafe and our allies are working to encourage Cal/OSHA to adopt a strong, evidence-based standard that will protect all California workers.

Worksafe strongly believes that workers most impacted by heat hazards should have the biggest say in determining details of the new standard — after all, they know what it is like to work in high heat environments without adequate protections. Unfortunately (and predictably) powerful industry players are attempting to weaken the rulemaking process behind the scenes. They claim it is too complicated to protect all workers from dangerous indoor heat hazards.

We beg to differ. When workers share their personal stories of heat illness, we listen. We hope that Cal/OSHA listens too and implements a new indoor heat prevention standard that is strong, worker-centered, and inclusive of all industries.

Are you a worker looking for training on indoor heat hazards?

Want to join our efforts to ensure a strong indoor heat regulation? 

Contact our Senior Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez (nmarquez at worksafe dot org).


 For more information:

Victory on Indoor Heat!

Posted on Oct 6, 2016

At the top of Worksafe’s legislative agenda this year was tackling the dangers of indoor heat. After years of work on the issue with our allies, including the California Labor Federation and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC), Worksafe is proud to celebrate with California workers a new law that will save lives!

On September 29th, Governor Brown signed SB 1167, a law that will put rules in place to protect workers from indoor heat exposure. Workers in warehouses and factories – often non-ventilated, even in the peak of summer – or in heat-intensive industries like laundry facilities are routinely expected to work for hours in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. The new law requires the Cal/OSHA Standards Board (OSHSB) to create and implement new rules to protect workers from the hazards of working in indoor heat.


Employers found in violation of law for indoor heat hazards

Posted on Oct 9, 2015

WWU_Pic_250x250Four years after Domingo Blancas’ brush with death on the job, the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (Board) has upheld citations issued to his employers for failing to have an effective IIPP (Injury and Illness Prevention Program) that addressed the hazard of indoor heat.

Worksafe – along with Alexander Community Law Center at SCU, and Warehouse Worker Resource Center – represented Domingo before the Board, and together we succeeded in getting justice for him and all the other workers exposed to this preventable hazard.

Domingo worked in an Inland Empire warehouse that serves retail giants such as Walmart. He was employed by a temporary staffing agency, Tri-State Staffing (TSI), and hired to work for the warehouse operator, National Distribution Center (NDC).


California Heat Standard Gets an Upgrade

Posted on Feb 26, 2015

OHIP_farmworkers_heat_250x250Worksafe and Labor Coalition Win Improved Protections in Revised Heat Standard

Last week, by a 5-1 vote, the California OSH Standards Board approved major revisions to Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard. Because the next heat season is almost upon us, the new provisions may go into effect as early as April 1, 2015, instead of following the normal wait time, which would take us well into the summer. Employers will have to revise their written programs and train workers on the new provisions before then.

Worksafe led the multi-year effort to bring together the voices of organized labor, farmworker organizations, and public health experts to support the proposal by Cal/OSHA enforcement staff, who argued that they needed clearer and stronger language to reduce the rate of heat-related illnesses and fatalities in the state.


Support California leading the nation in heat illness prevention

Posted on Sep 17, 2014

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.


Room for Improvement: Heat Illness Prevention Rules May See Updates Soon

Posted on Feb 20, 2014

Heat HazeThis summer is predicted by weather experts to be the hottest on record. And while California's current heat illness prevention standard has led to improvements in those industries covered by the rules, workers are still suffering from heat hazards.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has drafted language for possible changes to the state’s heat illness prevention standard, drawing on comments from labor and worker groups, as well as employers and industry representatives.

DOSH held a stakeholder meeting in Oakland on February 3, 2014 to get feedback on the proposed changes and discuss how these regulations can be improved.


Heat Illness

Posted on Dec 3, 2009

Farm WorkerWorkers in California continue to suffer heat illness and heat-related fatalities despite the fact that in 2005, California became the first state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive heat illness prevention standard [“the standard”] for outdoor workplaces.

This standard, which became permanent in July 2006, requires employers to train employees on heat illness prevention, and to provide recovery breaks, accessible drinking water, and shade. The employer is also required to develop and implement procedures for complying with the standard. Click here for the Heat Illness Prevention Standard.


What About Indoor Heat Hazards?

Posted on Dec 2, 2009

Workers employed in agricultural packing sheds, retail and food distribution warehouses, and other closed, poorly ventilated environments, are also at risk of heat illness and death when summertime temperatures soar above 90 degrees. There are, however, no specific California regulations to address the problems of indoor heat illness.


More on Heat

Posted on Dec 1, 2009

Read media coverage of this issue!

Read Worksafe's report on the October, 2009 Standards Board meeting!

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