California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, leads the way in protecting workers from heat exposure in outdoor places of employment. For years, Cal/OSHA has campaigned to raise awareness of outdoor heat exposure and improve the working conditions of outdoor laborers. That focus led Cal/OSHA to release new outdoor heat regulations in 2015. The new regulations cover access to shade, cool drinking water, cool-down rest periods, acclimatization methods, monitoring workers for heat illness, and emergency response procedures. The new regulations also require employers to develop written Heat Illness Prevention Plans and provide training to employees and supervisors in their spoken languages.
This year, a new California law (SB 1167) took effect that requires Cal/OSHA to propose a heat illness and injury prevention standard applicable to workers working in indoor places of employment. The standard will be based on environmental temperatures, work activity, and other factors. Cal/OSHA will also consider heat stress and heat strain guidelines developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), which are also referenced by federal OSHA. Members of the working community will also be able to weigh in on occupational health issues and practical matters to be considered in controlling employee exposure to indoor heat.
The new law doesn’t require the indoor heat regulations to be proposed until Jan. 1, 2019, but Cal/OSHA is already working on the project. Later this month, members of the public will have to the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee and provide input on occupational exposure to indoor heat. The meeting will take place on February 28, 2017, between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, in the Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St. 2nd floor, Room 1, Oakland, CA. Contact (916) 574-2993 for more information.