Summer is officially here and with it comes warnings from authorities that workers could be in danger if employers don’t take proactive steps to prevent heat illness.
The National Weather Service has issued heat warning for many parts of California starting today, and excessive heat warnings for some areas. Temperatures are expected to rise to 110ºF in some parts of the Sacramento Valley, for instance. In the desert areas of Imperial and San Diego counties, they will soar as high as 114.
NWS also has issued red flag warnings for fire danger in the East Bay hills and the North Bay mountains in the Bay Area, where memories of last October’s devastating wildfires are still fresh.
The advice to employers is simple: If you have employees working outdoors, you should have an effective heat illness prevention plan in place and train your workers on it. Make sure those toiling outside have plenty of fresh, cool water – workers need to drink at least a quart an hour. Just providing it isn’t enough, according to the heat illness prevention standard (General Industry Safety Orders section 3395). You must encourage employees to drink water.
Additionally, you must provide shade when the temperature reaches 80 degrees, or when employees request it, and if an employee is in danger of developing heat illness, they must be allowed to take a rest in the shade until their symptoms disappear.
Other important elements of the heat illness standard are having emergency procedures, including effective communication with workers in remote areas; designating employees at each worksite to call emergency medical services if someone starts to develop heat illness; and keeping a close eye on workers who have been on the job for two weeks or less.
As the saying goes, let’s be careful out there.