Heat Advisory: Keeping Outdoor Workers Safe

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings for temperatures forecasted to remain over 100 degrees in many inland parts of California.

California’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor workers, including those in agriculture, construction, and landscaping.

Other workers protected by the standard include those that spend a significant amount of time working outdoors such as security guards and groundskeepers, or in non-air conditioned vehicles such as transportation and delivery drivers.

While employers should provide cloth face covers or allow workers to use their own, the Cal/OSHA advises that face coverings can make it more difficult to breathe and cool down in high temperatures.

In addition, cloth face masks are not considered personal protective equipment, but they may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cal/OSHA states that agriculture and other outdoor employees should not utilize surgical or respirator masks as face coverings.

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

  • Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
  • Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
  • Shade – Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. 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. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers.

Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.