Cal/OSHA launched the 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Program to educate employers and workers on the risks of prolonged heat exposure at outdoor worksites. The annual kickoff was held at a bilingual training sponsored by Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League and other agricultural employers. The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California’s heat illness standard.
Employing a multi-faceted approach, Cal/OSHA uses enforcement, outreach and training modules to educate workers and employers of the health hazards that high temperatures present.
Targeted inspections of outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping will be conducted throughout the heat season.
Employers at outdoor worksites are required to ensure that basic precautions are followed:
- Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to hydrate frequently.
- Paid rest breaks would become mandatory for farm workers and other outdoor workers under a bill now in the California Legislature.
- Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down and recovery break.
- Ensure that workers “acclimatize” by gradually adjusting their bodies to high heat. This is especially important for new workers and during heat waves as temperatures may surge suddenly.
- Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, including training for supervisors and workers on steps to take if a worker shows signs of heat illness.
When temperatures reach 95 degrees, Cal/OSHA regulations require that special “High Heat” procedures be implemented. Supervisors must take extra precautions to mitigate risks to workers:
— Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
— Remind workers to drink water frequently.
— Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of employment (to ensure safe acclimatization).
— Test communication systems to guarantee that emergency assistance can be reached if necessary.
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