Cal/OSHA conducting heat inspection blitz

Agency reminds employers of things to do to keep workers safe from heat illness

Cal/OSHA conducting heat inspection blitz

Amid surging temperatures, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is launching proactive high heat inspections at certain worksites.

The agency will be strategically visiting worksites where workers are the most exposed to serious heat illness, including in construction, agriculture, landscaping and warehousing.

This comes after the National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings in some areas in California from Aug. 14 to 17. These include:

  • Imperial County: 111°F
  • Palm Springs: 111°F
  • Redding: 109°F
  • Bakersfield: 107°F
  • Fresno: 105°F
  • Sacramento: 104°F
  • Modesto: 103°F
  • Stockton: 102°F
  • San Bernardino: 102°F
  • Los Angeles: 90°F

Employees are suffering from scorching heat as the world enters an era of "global boiling," warned United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in July.

Also, President Joe Biden announced July 27, 2023 that he will ask the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue a Hazard Alert for extreme heat — the first of its kind in the nation’s history.

Heat training, resources for employers

Cal/OSHA Consultation Services is also hosting training for employers on heat illness prevention today. The training is to be held in English and Spanish.

Cal/OSHA is also reminding employers with outdoor workers in all industries to encourage workers to understand and exercise their rights related to heat illness prevention, such as taking a cool-down rest when necessary.

Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness, according to the agency:

  • Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
  • Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 32 ounces per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
  • Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
  • Provide proper shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Workers have the right to request and be provided shade to cool off at any time.

And even employers with indoor workers should take precautions, said the Cal/OSHA.

“In indoor workplaces, employers must correct unsafe conditions for workers created by heat as part of their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP),” it said.

The traditional nine-to-five working hours may need to begin a little earlier than usual as the world continues to heat up amid a changing climate, according to experts.

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