April 1, 2015
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Average global temperatures have risen all across the United States. Seven of the top 10 hottest years in the United States have occurred since 1998. As record-breaking high temperatures and blistering heat waves increase, it has become crucial for employers to plan for occupational heat exposure sooner in the season rather than later.
OSHA provides all workers the right to a safe workplace—this includes awareness of, and preventative measures taken against, heat illness caused by overexposure. To that end, Cal/OSHA has published a notice warning employers to take necessary steps to prevent outdoor workers from heat illness. However, given the global increase in temperature, employers across all states should also take note of heat illness prevention measures.
Outdoor workers, such as agricultural or construction employees, are especially vulnerable to heat illness. Employers should follow the below guidelines to protect workers from heat illness:
- Provide employees with enough cool, fresh water—at least 1 quart per hour— and remind them to drink often.
- Provide access to shaded areas, and encourage employees to take rest breaks of at least 5 minutes before they feel ill.Further special protective measures must be taken when temperatures reach 95°F or above. Supervisors must:
- Observe employees for signs of heat illness (headaches, fatigue, excessive sweating), especially if they must wear heavy protective clothing.
- Provide close supervision of employees in their first 14 days of employment.
- Have effective communication systems for contacting emergency responders in place, if necessary.
Severe heat illness can and has resulted in past fatalities—yet heat illness is completely preventable. Ensure employees are adequately protected during the oncoming hot season by providing proper training.
- Train Employees and Supervisors about the symptoms of heat illness, how to prevent it, and how to respond if someone becomes sick.
- Update your handbook to include written procedures on Heat Illness Prevention Standard.
- For further guidance, subscribers should call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456.
Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
© 2015 ManagEase. Inc.