The Updated, Heat Injury Prevention Regulations
The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), or CalOSHA, has updated its regulations for the prevention of heat injuries. A wide variety of businesses, not just field workers, must pay heed to these new requirements.
History had it that, if someone experienced a heat injury, or died from one, it was simply a cost of doing business. A new employee would be found to fill the gap. That is no longer the case. As such, employers are obligated to protect their employees from this debilitating injury. As more is learned of this type of emergency, the regulations are improved.
Effective 01 May of this year:
- The employer must verify the temperature forecast by 7:00AM and prepare accordingly
- Cool, not necessarily iced, potable water and individual, disposable cups, must be available to supply the entire crew for the entire work period
- If the temperature reaches 80oF, solid shade must be provided to comfortably cover all the employees on break or recovery period. A vehicle is considered only if it has air conditioning and has space for the employees. Sitting under sparse shade does not count
- Should the temperature reach 90oF, a mandatory, ten-minute rest period every two hours is implemented. The rest period starts when the employee reaches the rest area
- If an employee begins to show signs of a heat injury, they are to immediately be removed to the shaded, rest area. The supervisor has the authority to call for advanced medical assistance should they feel the employee requires it.
The supervisor must take into consideration the Heat Index, a factor combining the ambient heat and humidity to determine the actual heat for that area. A high humidity will raise the total heat experienced in that area.
Employees are also responsible to maintain themselves in a healthy state, capable of working in the assigned area. They are also responsible to keep alert of their work partners, ensuring they do not succumb to a heat injury, and to be capable to respond accordingly.
California, and the West, in general, is going through a remarkable era of higher ambient temperatures. We must be capable to withstand this onslaught and to respond to any emergency brought on by the heat.