EHS Administration, Heat illness

California, Oregon Alert Employers to Heat Hazards

State occupational safety and health regulators in California and Oregon reminded employers to protect workers from heat hazards and comply with their states’ heat illness prevention standards.

On June 2, the Oregon Occupation​al Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) announced the release of employer assistance resources for the state’s new heat illness prevention rule. The rule takes effect June 15, and compliance resources include:

  • A five-page fact sheet about key requirements of the heat rule, highlighting the rule’s key overall requirements in a reader-friendly summary of what employers and workers need to know about the rule;
  • A two-page fact sheet about the heat rule’s rest break schedule options for preventing heat illness, providing a quick, easy-to-use guide of the section of the heat rule addressing rest break schedule options A, B, and C; and
  • An online heat illness prevention course, available in English and Spanish, designed to satisfy certain training requirements found in the heat rule, addressing topics such as common signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses; risk factors; how the heat index is measured; and access to shade, drinking water, and other measures.

“These new resources reflect our ongoing commitment to helping employers achieve compliance with the heat rule as they move forward with their operations,” said Renee Stapleton, Oregon OSHA’s acting administrator, in an agency statement.

Oregon OSHA adopted a permanent heat illness prevention rule in May along with a wildfire smoke rule, which takes effect July 1. The permanent standards are based on emergency temporary regulations adopted in summer 2021.

Requirements of the heat rule include access to shade and drinking water, scheduled rest breaks, and training, as well as developing acclimatization and emergency medical plans. Under the wildfire smoke rule, employers must perform exposure assessments and provide employee information and training that cover symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure and the acute and chronic health effects of wildfire smoke, implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce exposures, and provide filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) at no cost to employees.

Cal/OSHA reminder

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reminded employers in the state that they must take steps to protect outdoor workers from heat illness by providing water, rest, shade, and training.

“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 an agency statement.

Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites and requires that all employers maintain a written prevention plan.

Employers must provide outdoor workers with fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks. Employers also must train workers and supervisors on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency.

There is no federal heat illness prevention standard, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a rulemaking for a federal standard. The agency issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on October 27, asking for stakeholder input on effective heat injury and illness prevention programs and controls, both engineering and administrative controls; acclimatization protocols; and monitoring methods.

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