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What is the California "heat illness standard?"

California workplace regulators have recently weighed in with summer-related information that they obviously regard as being exceedingly important.

The message to employers across the state is essentially this: You'll feel the heat if you don't take account of it when sending employees outside to work.

Summer looms, and Cal/OSHA warns in a recent informational tract addressing heat-related workplace concerns that "heat can be expected to continue to shatter temperature records."

Regulators stress that employers with outdoor work sites need to be duly aware of that and take all due precautions to protect their workers against heat-related illnesses.

Certain industries come immediately to mind, of course, where blazing summer weather is concerned, and Cal/OSHA specifically references them in conjunction with its highlighting of the state's so-called "heat illness standard." Agriculture, construction, landscaping -- these occupational realms and additional outside-focused work activities (e.g., employment engaged in at amusement parks, recreational centers and facilities, sports venues and so forth) are comparatively high-risk pursuits for workers, and Cal/OSHA is demanding that state employers take precautionary steps to keep employees safe.

The above-standard will certainly be helpful as a regulatory guide for California businesses. It contains a number of "basic precautions" that include the following:

  • Training for workers and managers regarding heat-related illnesses and injuries and the steps that can be taken to prevent such outcomes
  • Immediate access to an adequate water supply, with specific recommendations regarding consumption
  • Proactive management encouragement to workers to rest and cool down when they feel the need to do so
  • Construction of shade structures

Cal/OSHA says that the standard is more than just an admonitory guide. The agency states that its education component will be augmented by "enforcement targeting those employers who put their workers' safety at risk.

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