California Heat Illness Prevention Rules for Outdoor Workplaces Change

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New Outdoor Heat Illness Prevention standards go into effect in California on May 1, 2015. California’s heat illness regulations influence how heat illness prevention and safety standards are implemented across the country. The regulations will affect how employers with employees working outdoors in any industry prepare for and manage warm-season working conditions.

Highlights of the new regulations include:

Drinking Water – Employers are required to provide drinking water that is:

  • fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided free of charge to employees, and
  • located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.

Shade – The amended regulation requires that shade:

  • be provided at all times when the temperature exceeds 80° F, and
  • be sufficient to accommodate all employees during rest or meal periods.

Preventive Cool-Down Rest Periods – The new rules require encouraging employees to take preventive cool-down rest periods. An employer must also:

  • ask workers if they are experiencing symptoms of heat illness, and
  • have them wait until the signs or symptoms of heat illness have abated before returning to work.

High-Heat Procedures – When the temperature is at least 95° F, the high-heat regulations require:

  • observing employees for signs or symptoms of heat illness by a supervisor or designee, using a buddy system, by electronic device, or other effective means of observation,
    • designating a worker to call for emergency services,
    • reviewing procedures in pre-shift meetings, and
    • for agricultural workers, a 10-minute cool-down rest period every 2 hours.

Emergency Response Procedures – An employer must:

  • maintain an effective means of communication, either by voice, observation or electronic device, such as cell phone or text messaging, and
  • provide first aid and emergency medical services commensurate with the heat illness.

Acclimatization – Workers should be allowed time to adjust to high-heat working conditions. During a heat wave, employers must closely monitor employees paying particular attention to new workers assigned to a high-heat area.

Training – Workers must now be trained in:

  • the employer’s responsibilities to provide water, shade, cool-down rests and first aid,
  • the employer’s acclimatization procedures,
  • first aid and emergency response procedures, and
  • the employees’ ability to exercise rights under the regulation without retaliation.

Heat Illness Prevention Plan – Employers are required to have an effective Heat Illness Prevention Plan. The Plan must be in writing, in English and in the language understood by the majority of the employees, and available to employees at the worksite.

Compliance Poster Company’s Outdoor Heat Stress Illness Poster can be used as an effective tool for training workers in the new standards and as an ongoing reminder of safe practices on the job. It also serves as a valuable reference tool for assessing heat illness symptoms and identifying the appropriate level of response at the worksite.

The Outdoor Heat Stress Illness Poster describes different types of heat illness and also preventive measures. The Poster also helps identify heat illness risk based on the federal Heat Indexing of outside temperature and humidity ratios, making employees more aware of outdoor precautions.

Click here to order the updated Outdoor Heat Stress Illness Prevention Poster in English or Spanish. Click here to download the real-time Heat Index app and calculate the heat index for your worksite today.

1 Comment


  1. Remember: the site foreman must check the weather with the NWS prior to the start of work to determine if the outdoor temperature will be at or exceed 80 degrees. Or exceed 95 degrees (high-heat) to determine if high-heat prevention measures should be taken.

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