Cal-OSHA has established New Cal-OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Program Requirements.

The question is have you made the necessary adjustments to both your heat illness prevention program and your Safety Program? Failing to do so could cost your business as much as $18,000.00. The easiest way to address the new Cal-OSHA heat illness prevention program requirements is to take each section one at a time. So we cover some of the old requirements and then address what is new.

Potable Water Requirements

The old requirement in the Cal-Osha Heat Illness and Prevention Program requirements for employers was to make sure that all employees have access to potable water that is fit for drinking. Fit for drinking means the following:
• Water must be pure
• Water must be maintained through individual dispensers, or drinking fountains.
• Drinking water must be cool but not cold.
Cal-Osha has fined employers for not making pure potable water available to employees at all times. Cal-OSHA has also cited employers for failing to mark properly the dispensable cups or bottles that are used to obtain clean water.
In the event that employers are unable to supply or restock the employee’s water continuously through the day by whatever means such as a mobile crew that is located off site, the employer must make sure that before each shift there is enough water for all employees to drink. The minimum standard is one quart of water per hour, per employee.

The New Cal-OSHA Heat Illness Requirements Contains The Following

The drinking water must in addition to being fresh, and pure, but now the water has to be refreshingly cool, but not cold and the water must be provided free of cost to the employee. In addition the water must be located as near as possible to where employees are working, unless this causes an undue burden on the employer, the term undue burden means that it is not feasible to do so. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure employees can continue to perform their duties and yet still be able to drink plenty of water at all times. If the water is close to where he employees are working they will not have to take additional time off of the job to go and get water.

Shade Requirements

The definition of shade is the blocking of light so that the item in the shade will not cast a shadow. Shade must also be easy for employees to access. Employees should not be required to travel excessive distances to avail themselves of the shade.
The new regulation mandates that employers are to provide shade once the temperature rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of the old standard employers must now ensure that the shaded area will be large enough to accommodate all employees that are taking either a rest break or that are taking a lunch break. Also new is the requirement that, the shaded area has be located as near as possible to where the employees are working.
Part of these new regulations is that employers provide shade that is available to each employee who may want to stay close to the work area.

Preventive Cool-Down Rest Periods

One of the new Cal-OSHA Heat Prevention Requirements for the Heat and Illness Prevention Program is called Preventive Cool-Down and Rest Periods. This new feature allows for employees to ask for a cool down period anytime the employee feels that he/she is in need of one because of the danger of becoming overheated. Five minutes is the minimum amount of time that an employee can take for this cool down break. The break must be totally void of all work activities.

While the employee is on the Preventive Cool-Down Rest Period it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the employee is being watch to make sure the employee is not experiencing any form of heat related illnesses. Employers are to also check with the employee verbally and ask if they are ok. Finally an employee is not to be allowed to go back to work until all systems of the heated illness have vanished.

High-Heat Procedures

The new amendment call for employers to implement High Heat Procedures once the temperatures reach 95 degrees. At this point employers must watch employees to insure that they are alert as well as paying close attention to make sure that employees are not suffering from any form of heat related illnesses. Once we are in this phase of the Heat Illness Prevention Program employers must ensure the following:
1. That there is at least one supervisor for every twenty employees.
2. A mandatory buddy system.
3. The employer must maintain constant communication with all employees either by electronic device or using verbal communication.
Employers are also required to make one employee on each jobsite a medical watch. The duties of this employee is to know the companies emergencies medical transport plan in the event of any heat related illnesses. If there is not one employee available for this duty at a jobsite the company must instruct all employees on how they are to provide or make available emergency medical transportation.

In addition to everything discussed this amendment also requires employers to monitor the weather during the summer months or during a heat wave. This monitoring of the whether would include pre-shift meetings that would afford the employer to go over the company’s policies for to ensure that employees will not be exposed to heat related illnesses. These meetings would include reminding employees of how to contact emergency medical transportation, making sure employees have water and are encouraged to drink water on at regular intervals. Employees should also be reminded about the 5 minute cool down breaks that can be taken as needed.

New Cal-OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Requirement Conclusion:

With Cal-OSHA increasing the fines by up to 80% I would encourage all employees to take this very seriously. In fact we are at a place concerning compliance that the state of California has said enough is enough when it comes to employers choosing to stay non-compliant. The best way to stay compliant with Cal-OSHA these days is to do and to have the following programs and practices.

  1. Have a good Safety Program otherwise known as an Illness and Injury Prevention Program.  Your safety program should meet all eight of the standards.
  2. Make sure that do everything your Safety Program says you will do.  Cal-OSHA has new enforcement procedures, if you are not doing what your safety program says you will do, you are not in compliance. The eight standards for your safety programs are: Make sure you have named your safety officer.  Make sure that you have a way for employees to report unsafe work conditions in the workplace. Make sure that you have addressed the subject of training.  This training would not only include general safety training topics but would also include the training of employee on new equipment, as well as training the employees in the event of an accident.  This training would include how to avoid such an accident from happening in the future.  Make sure that your safety program has a way to identify hazards, and your company’s abatement procedure of said hazards.  It is not enough to have this information in your safety program you must be able to provide documentation that you are doing them.
  3. Make sure that your Heat Illness Prevention Program is current and meets all of these new Cal-OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Program Requirements. Make sure that your Heat Illness and Prevention Program is available on the jobsite.  This program should be able to seen at will by employees as well as any enforcement team.
  4. If you work in confined space make sure that you have a confined space program
  5. Do regular Safety Training Topics
  6. Make sure that you  have records going up to six years back for your safety training and the posting of the Cal-Osha 300 log that  must be posted from February-April each year.
  7. One last reminder I am seeing companies getting cited for non-compliance and the fines are ranging from $15,000.00- $50,000.00.  It is by far better to comply than to pay for non-compliance