Heat Stress #1

Heat stress is a silent hazard. Many times workers don’t realize they’re suffering from the condition, until it’s well advanced.

Permanent Heat Illness Prevention Standard Now In Effect
The final version of California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard is now law. The standard in its entirety applies to all outdoor places of employment at those times when the environmental risk factors for heat illness are present.

The three key elements to control the occurrence of risk for heat illness specified by Section 3395 are:

Provisions of Water – Employees must have access to potable drinking water, provided in sufficient quantity at the beginning of the work shift, to provide one quart per employee per hour for drinking for the entire shift. Employers may begin the shift with smaller quantities of water if they have effective procedures for replenishment during the shift, as needed, to allow employees to drink one quart or more per hour. The frequent drinking of water must be encouraged (see “Training” below).
Access to Shade – Employees suffering from heat illness or believing a preventative recovery period is needed, must be provided access to an area with shade that is either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling for a period of no less than five minutes. Such access to shade must be permitted at all times.

Training – Training and periodic review must be provided to all supervisory and non-supervisory employees on the following topics:

• The environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;
• The employer’s procedures for identifying, evaluating, and controlling exposures to the environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;
• The importance of frequent consumption of small quantities of water – up to 4 cups per hour under extreme conditions of work and heat;
• The importance of acclimatization;
• The different types of heat illness and the common signs and symptoms of heat illness;
• The importance of immediately reporting to the employer, directly or through the employee’s supervisor, symptoms or signs of heat illness in themselves or in co-workers;
• The employer’s procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided should they become necessary;
• Procedures for contacting emergency medical services, and if necessary, for transporting employees to a point where they can be reached by an emergency medical service provider;
• How to provide clear and precise directions to the work site.

Supervisors – Prior to assignment to supervision of employees working in the heat, supervisors must not only receive training on the above topics but also on the procedures to follow to implement the applicable provisions of the regulation. Additionally, they must be trained on procedures to follow when an employee shows symptoms consistent with possible heat illness, including emergency response procedures.

California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard includes definitions of terms referenced therein including acclimatization, heat illness, environmental risk factors for heat illness, and personal risk factors for heat illness, preventative recovery period, and shade.

The entire heat illness prevention standard can be reviewed at – http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/heatillnessinfo.html

* Heat Stress is a Hot Topic*