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California’s workplace safety regulators are encouraging employers with outdoor workers to begin preparing now for hot temperatures.
Last year was the hottest on record in the state, and the past two months of 2015 also have broken temperature records, according to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
“California has the most extensive heat illness prevention requirements in the country,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Exposure to heat can lead to headaches, fatigue and muscle cramps, as well as fainting, seizures and even death,” she said.
The agency’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard was recently updated and is slated to go into effect May 1, 2015. The amendments specify new water and shade requirements, and add new language on emergency response procedures, acclimation and training.
The amended requirements for employers include the following:
One-Third of Inspections Led to Citations in 2014
Cal/OSHA conducted 3,575 inspections in 2014, about one-third (1,058) of which resulted in heat-related citations, the agency announced. The most frequently cited sections of the standard related to an employer’s written heat illness prevention program, employee training and inadequate water. A vast majority of the heat inspections occurred at construction (2,022) or agriculture (678) worksites.
There were fewer confirmed heat-related fatalities and illnesses in 2014 than the previous year, and overall compliance with the heat standard increased slightly, according to the agency.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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