Cal/OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Outdoor Workers from Record-Breaking Heat Wave


Fresno—California heat of the past several years has shattered temperature records going back more than 100 years. With this year’s heat season approaching, Cal/OSHA hosted a news conference Monday, to remind employers that prevention is the best defense for outdoor workers against heat-related illness and death.

A key component to Cal/OSHA’s prevention model includes annual training statewide in both English and Spanish. The training highlights the need to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and the requirements under California’s heat illness standard.

Cal/OSHA’s approach to prevention includes inspections at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping and construction during heat season. These targeted inspections check for compliance with the heat illness prevention standard and the injury and illness prevention standard, which require employers to take the following basic precautions:

  1. Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  2. Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  3. Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool‐down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
  4. Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
  5. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.

The most frequent violation that Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite.  Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.

Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.