Heat Illness Prevention Program Required for Outdoor Employees

Cal OSHA requires all employers with outdoor worksites to have a specific program and training in place to prevent heat illness. Summer (surely) will arrive soon in northern California. We encourage employers to check out the Cal OSHA on line resources to prepare for the heat. 

At minimum, California employers are required to:

1. Train employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention before assigning them to outdoor work.   Training must include the following:

  • Environmental and personal risk factors
  • Employer’s heat illness prevention plan and procedures
  • Importance to drink water frequently throughout the day
  • Importance of acclimatization (allowing the body to adjust gradually to the work in high heat)
  • The types of heat illness and the signs and symptoms
  • Necessity of immediately reporting to an employer any signs or symptoms
  • Employer’s procedures for responding to symptoms and for contacting emergency medical services

 Training information is available on the Cal OSHA website at https://www.99calor.org/educational-resources/

2. Provide shade for employees to cool and encourage them to do so before they feel overheated. Shade must be present to accommodate 25% of the employees on the shift at any time when temperatures exceed 85 degrees, and located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.

3. Provide fresh, cool water of at least 1 quart per hour per employee and encourage employees to drink the water.

4. Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the standards.  These written procedures must include:

  • How an employer will comply with the heat illness standard requirements
  • How to respond to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided
  • How to contact emergency medical services, and if necessary, how employees will be transported to a location where they can be reached by an emergency medical service provider
  • How employees will ensure that, in the event of an emergency, clear and precise directions to the worksite can, and will, be provided as needed to emergency responders
  • Employers are encouraged to integrate their heat illness prevention procedures into their Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs)

 A sample of these procedures may be found at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ESPHIP.pdf

Employers who do not follow the standards could receive significant fines and have their operations shut down until they are in compliance. To learn more about compliance with the Heat Illness Prevention Standards visit: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html