EHS Administration, Heat illness

Cal/OSHA Cautions Employers on Heat Hazards

With high temperatures expected throughout California, on May 23, the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reminded employers of outdoor workers to be prepared and take the necessary precautions to prevent heat illnesses. California has a state standard requiring that employers develop and implement written heat illness prevention plans, provide fresh water and access to shade, and train employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.

There is no current federal heat stress or heat illness prevention standard, but on October 27, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for a federal standard that would apply to outdoor and indoor work settings. OSHA also issued a heat-related hazard national emphasis program (NEP) of outreach, inspection, and enforcement on April 13.

Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. The state rule requires employers to provide outdoor workers with fresh drinking water, access to shade at 80 degrees and whenever requested by a worker, and cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks. The required written prevention plans must include training on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency.

“As we shift towards summer, employers need to ensure they have updated their written heat plans and provided effective training to all of their employees who work outdoors,” Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip said in a statement. “For those who want help, Cal/OSHA is ready and available to provide consultation and outreach.”

OSHA extends comment period for possible Arizona revocation

On May 24, federal OSHA extended the deadlines for comment and public hearing requests on the agency’s proposal to revoke its final approval of Arizona’s occupational safety and health plan (87 Federal Register (FR) 31442). The deadlines for requesting an informal hearing, submitting written testimony, and submitting a notice of intent to appear at an informal public hearing have been extended to July 5.

Like Cal/OSHA, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) sets and administers occupational safety and health standards for public and private employment in its state.

An informal public hearing on the agency’s proposal to revoke approval of Arizona’s plan will begin on August 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

On April 21, OSHA proposed revoking the plan’s approval. If the agency moves forward, the status of Arizona’s program would revert to initial approval, and federal OSHA could resume private sector enforcement in the state.

OSHA initiated the revocation process because Arizona failed to adopt the healthcare COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) that OSHA issued on June 21, 2021. Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, states’ occupational safety and health programs must establish and enforce standards at least as effective as federal OSHA standards.

The federal agency has previously considered revoking approval of Arizona’s program. OSHA became concerned in 2012 when the state legislature passed a bill implementing residential construction fall protection requirements that were less effective than the federal standard. The state remedied the issue after OSHA initiated revocation proceedings in 2014.

Federal OSHA contends that Arizona also has been delinquent since then in responding to and/or adopting other items necessary to keep Arizona’s program at least as effective as federal OSHA.