Triple-digit temperatures have hit California, and the excessive heat wave doesn’t seem to be letting up – Death Valley was reported to have recently peaked to 130 degrees, and rangers have been trying to persuade people not to hike. Zookeepers are hosing down animals, even feeding tigers frozen fish snacks. It also was reported that Joe Arpaio, the famously hard-nosed sheriff who runs tent city (a jailhouse made up of tents in the middle of the Arizona desert), planned to dish out ice cream and cold towels to inmates this weekend.
Certain industries — including agriculture, construction and landscaping — are recognized as at-risk when the temperature rises above 95 degrees. The summer’s hot temperatures can leave workers exposed to conditions that may cause heat-related illnesses, including heat rash, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Every year, many workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some even die. Cal-OSHA is currently investigating two recent possible heat-related deaths, both occurring the same week in the Central Valley. OSHA has launched a campaign to help prevent heat illness in outdoor workers – click here to find out more.
California employers are required to take preventative steps to help employees avoid heat illness. Project supervisors and employees should be properly trained in high heat procedures. The following are Cal/OSHA mandatory requirements of employers to prevent heat illness. It is very serious about enforcing these regulations and will issue severe fines and penalties to those employers who fail to comply.
Training – Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
Water – Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.
Shade – Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
Planning – Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.