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Final Draft of Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Illness Standard Released

By: Faith L. Driscoll

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued its latest – and final – draft of proposed new standards for heat illness prevention in indoor workplaces.  This standard would apply to workplaces when the indoor temperature reaches 82 degrees in work areas.  Additionally, assessment and control measures must be taken in the following situations: when the temperature reaches 87 degrees, the heat index reaches 87 degrees, employees wear clothing that restricts heat removal, or employees work in high-radiant-heat areas.  Employers will be required to provide water on the same basis as outdoor workplaces.   

This draft revises the definition of a “cool-down area” as an indoor or outdoor area that is blocked from sunlight and shielded from high-radiant-heat sources, that is either open to the air or ventilated or cooled.  It adds that blockage will be considered sufficient when “objects do not cast a shadow in the area of blocked sunlight.”

In the assessment and control section, DOSH added an exception to a requirement that employers measure and record the temperature or heat index, whichever is greater, and identify/evaluate all environmental risk factors for heat illness.  The exception gives employers the option of assuming a work area is subject to the need for controlling the temperature, thus forgoing the requirement to assess and record specific heat-related information.  

Employers will also be required to use control measures to minimize the risk of heat illness, including isolation of thermal processes, isolating employees from heat sources, using air conditioning, cooling fans, cooling mist fans, and natural ventilation if the outdoor temperature is lower than inside. Finally, the draft standards will require supervisors to closely observe workers during heat waves, which are defined as any day when the predicted high outdoor temperature will be at least 80 degrees and at least 10 degrees warmer than the daily temperature during the preceding five days.

To view the draft standard in its entirety, please visit:

https://www.cal-osha.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Indoor-Heat-Draft-revisions-Apr-22-2019.pdf

DOSH does not anticipate making any further changes before the draft is assessed for economic impact and then sent to the Standards Board for the formal rulemaking process.

What This Means for Employers

Now is the time to begin evaluating the workplace to determine how these proposed standards will impact the workplace.  Preparing in advance is critical to ensure proper compliance with these detailed requirements.  As soon as the regulations are implemented, Cal/OSHA inspections will likely target agricultural employers, as well as construction, manufacturing and industrial kitchens and laundries.  Contact Barsamian & Moody for help in drafting compliant policies and procedures to prevent violations and expensive penalties.

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 The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should neither be interpreted as, nor construed as legal advice or opinion. The reader should consult with Barsamian & Moody at (559) 248-2360, for individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation.

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