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The Heat is On! Protect Your Workers from Heat Illness

Posted by: Gail Cecchettini Whaley, J.D. on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

Yes, we did have a lot of rain this year, but now the heat has arrived with full force! The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings up and down the state – from San Bernardino County to Fresno, Sacramento and the Bay Area. 


Action Steps

Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:

  • Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
  • Train – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
  • Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.
  • Shade – Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.


Cal/OSHA
reminds all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness as temperatures rise throughout California.

Heat illness is a dangerous condition where the body internal temperature control system stops functioning properly and can’t maintain an acceptable temperature. Due to the high heat or high humidity, normal cooling processes, like sweating, stop working.

Symptoms can range from dizziness, nausea/vomiting, confusion, cramps, or red dry skin to a rapid heart rate, fainting or convulsion.  If early warning signs are not promptly treated, symptoms can progress and lead to brain or other organ damage and even death.

To prevent heat illness, it’s crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death.

Workers experiencing possible overheating should take a preventative cool-down rest in the shade until symptoms are gone.

Cal/OSHA cautions that workers who have existing health problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.


Cal/OSHA Inspections and Resources

Cal/OSHA investigators conduct high heat inspections at outdoor worksites to ensure compliance with California’s heat illness prevention regulation and other workplace safety and health requirements.

Cal/OSHA also provides multilingual outreach and training programs on heat illness prevention. Cal/OSHA provides some great information on its Heat Illness Prevention web page and in Spanish on the 99calor.org website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.


Let CEA Help!

In addition to Cal/OSHA resources, CEA has several options available to help you develop your mandatory IIPP  -- if you have outdoor workers, this should include your heat illness plan.

Your company can choose to let CEA do the work! For low hazard and/or small businesses, CEA can customize a new IIPP for your company or review and revise your current IIPP. Contact us, so we can get started! 

Lastly, if you have more complex needs – for example you are in a high hazard industry – you may wish to work with our safety partner  to develop a program specific to your business.


If you don’t have a mandatory IIPP, take your first step today and reach out to 
CEA.

 

 

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