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California OSHA Issues Guidance, Updated Heat Rules

Heat RulesEarlier this year, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a report detailing the efforts of its Heat Illness Prevention Special Emphasis Program. In 2014, there were 3,575 inspections conducted; 678 covered various industries, 2,022 covered construction, and the remainder covered other outdoor work sites in various industries. Of these inspections, there were 1,058 inspections that resulted in a least one citation of a violation of the Health Illness Prevention Standard.

According to the report, most of the citations were for:

  • Lack of or an inadequate written Heat Illness Prevention Program;
  • Lack of or inadequate employee training; or
  • Lack of or inadequate provision of water.

In total, the issued citations resulted in assessed monetary penalties of more than $1.1 million. Notably, overall compliance by the employers under the Health Illness Prevention Standard came in at 70.4 percent, which was up slightly from the previous year’s compliance rate of 70.0 percent.

Failure on the part of employers to take adequate precautions and to implement adequate protections for heat-related illnesses and injuries can have devastating effects on employees. In 2014, there was one confirmed heat fatality, which is down from the previous year when there were four confirmed fatalities. Furthermore, there were also 40 confirmed heat-related illnesses, which occurred across various industries, such as agriculture, fire/police, and construction.

Cal/OSHA Issues Updated Heat Rules, Guidance

Heat-related illnesses and injuries remain a particular concern for employees across the state. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that they implement safe working conditions to protect employees from heat-related fatalities and illnesses. This year, the state has updated its heat illness prevention rules. There are certain high-heat (over 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above) industries subject to these rules, including agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction materials, or other heavy materials.

To protect workers from high-heat related injuries and illnesses, employers are required to provide access to drinking water. What is more, when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must “maintain one or more areas with shade at all times while employees are present that are either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling.” In addition, when temperatures exceed 95 degrees, employers are required to implement high-heat procedures, such as maintaining effective communication and checking employees for alertness and signs or symptoms of heat illness.

Contact Our California Work Accident Attorneys

Every employee has the right to a safe workplace that is free from unreasonable risks and dangers. And this includes the right to be protected from the heat-related issues. Despite these rules, employers often fail to take adequate precautions to protect workers. If your employer is failing to take adequate protections to protect you from heat-related illnesses and injuries, it is important to reach out to an experienced work accident attorney who can help protect your rights. The skilled San Jose work accident attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can help you protect your rights if you have suffered a work-related injury or illness.

Contact our California workplace injury attorneys for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. You can call us at (408) 289-1417. We are based in San Jose and offer legal advice to injured workers throughout the state, including Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Monterey County, Alameda County, San Benito County, and the Bay Area.

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