Flash Report: Indoor Heat Rule Done

For the second time in three months, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board has adopted a rule to protect indoor workers from heat illness. In contrast to the controversial and ultimately rejected March version, this one will likely pass muster with the Office of Administrative Law.  It could become effective as soon as August.

The new standard is General Industry Safety Orders §3396, and it closely follows the current outdoor heat regulation in many instances. Employers must provide a quart of water per hour, access to “cool-down” areas, emergency response and acclimation procedures, and training.

The basic provisions trigger when the indoor temperature reaches 82ºF.

More detailed requirements kick in when the temperature is 87ºF, the heat index equals 87ºF, employees wear clothing that restricts heat removal, and the temperature is at least 82ºF, or they work in a high-radiant heat area and the temperature is 82.

In those cases, employers must measure the temperature and heat index and evaluate environmental risk factors. Employees must have “active involvement” in planning and conducting these tasks. Employers then must use engineering and administrative controls, and, in some cases, personal heat-protective equipment, to protect employees from the heat.

Prisons, local detention facilities, and juvenile facilities are exempted from the regulation and will be subject to separate rulemaking.

With the standard newly adopted, the Board is requesting OAL expedite its effective date. If that happens, the standard will be in force by early August. If not, the rule will take effect on October 1st.

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