Friday, June 12, 2009

Cal-OSHA Heat Stress Standard

Dateline-Sacramento, CA - Cal-OSHA Reporter Digest- 6/11/09 Thursday.

An emergency rulemaking proposal on heat illness released today by the Cal/OSH Standards Board gives regulatory force to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health's enforcement stance on when shade should be up and available for workers, adds new requirements when temperatures reach 95 Fahrenheit and strengthens training provisions of California's landmark heat illness prevention standard.

The proposal is up for adoption before the board June 18 in Oakland. Cal/OSHA seeks the emergency revisions to General Industry Safety Orders ᄃ3395 because enforcement statistics for 2009 show an "unexpected increase in noncompliance that requires immediate clarifying and substantive changes," especially on the provision of shade, the board says.

The main thrust of the proposal is to add specific requirements when temperatures reach higher than 85F and 95F. At above 85 degrees, employers would be required to have and maintain one or more areas with shade at all times, either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling, when employees are present. The shade must accommodate at least 25% of the employees on the shift at any one time.

At temperatures at or below 85 degrees, employers would be required to provide shade upon workers' request. An exception to the "shade up" section is included for cases where the employer can demonstrate it is infeasible and the employer can provide equally effective heat protection.

When temperatures soar to at least 95F, Cal/OSHA is proposing "high heat" procedures, including:

  • Effective communication so employees are able to contact a supervisor if needed
  • Use of a "buddy system"
  • Observing employees for alertness and signs and symptoms of heat illness
  • Reminding workers throughout the shift to drink plenty of water
  • Close supervision of new employees by a supervisor or designee for the first 14 days of employment, with exceptions
  • The proposal also strengthens ᄃ3395 training requirements by prohibiting workers or supervisors from beginning outdoor work unless they have been trained in heat illness prevention, and adding items to training requirements, including how to monitor weather reports and respond to hot weather advisories.

On a personal note, some of might know that I grew up in Fresno. (Go Bulldogs !) For those of you not familar with Fresno Heat it is OVER 100 degrees for 100 days, (usually July Aug & Sept) and it is BELOW 30 degrees for 30 days (coldest months are Jan or Feb)

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