Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Adopts New Heat Stress Regulations

June 16, 2006

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has adopted a permanent heat stress regulation, which protects all California employees working outdoors. The measure now goes to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which has 30 days to approve, upon which date it becomes effective.

“California has adopted the first heat illness prevention regulation in the country, taking the lead in prevention and saving lives,” said Len Welsh, Acting Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). “With temperatures in California summers often reaching triple digits, it’s imperative that we protect those who work outdoors.”

The Standards Board adopted emergency heat regulations in August, 2005 prompted by a significant increase in the number of possible heat-related incidents reported to Cal/OSHA last summer. A Cal/OSHA investigation revealed that heat illness was directly responsible for 13 work-related deaths in 2005, as well as in a high percentage of other incidences such as accidents.

Heat illness is a medical condition that results from the body’s inability to cope with heat and cool itself and includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, fainting, and heat stroke.

Since no other state or federal regulations were in place, Cal/OSHA drafted the first Heat Illness Prevention standard in collaboration with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, worker and employer communities, Cal/OSHA, the Standards Board and other interested parties. The permanent heat illness prevention standard, Title 8, Chapter 4, Section 3395, Heat Illness Prevention, applies to all outdoor places of employment and focuses on the provision of shade, water, acclimatization and training.

“Prevention is the best defense against heat-related illnesses. Once a worker actually becomes ill from the effects of heat it can be too late,” said Welsh.

Since the initiation of the emergency regulations, Cal/OSHA has stepped up its outreach efforts to educate employers and workers on heat illness prevention. Public Service Announcements, regarding heat illness and other worker’s rights and safety issues, can be found in eight languages on our website. To find out more about protecting workers from heat stress please visit www.dir.ca.gov or call 415/703-5100.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.