09May 2017

Ask the Expert – Indoor Heat Illness Prevention

Question:  I work in a foundry building, with no air-conditioning. It gets very hot in the summertime (the temperature often exceeds 90 degrees). I know there’s a Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention regulation for outdoor workplaces such as construction sites and farms, but I’ve never heard of a heat illness prevention regulation for indoor workplaces. Does Cal/OSHA have a heat illness prevention regulation for people who work indoors?

Answer: That’s a great question, and very timely as well. Cal/OSHA currently has not adopted a formal heat illness prevention regulation for indoor workplaces, but that’s about to change.

On September 26, 2016 Governor Brown signed into law SB 1167, the New Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Bill. The bill requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH, but also known as Cal/OSHA) to propose to the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB) for review and adoption, a heat illness and injury prevention standard applicable to workers in indoor workplaces by January 1, 2019.

DOSH is required to propose the new standard by January 1, 2019, but indoor heat is still a workplace hazard that California employers must assess and correct. A November 2015 decision by the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board affirmed that Cal/OSHA can (and will) cite employers for indoor heat hazards using GISO 3203 (The IIPP Standard).

Find more information at: SB1167 Cal/OSHA Appeals Board Decision

In the meantime, remember to take these important steps to help prevent heat illness:

  • Drink plenty of cool, fresh water (at least one quart per hour) in small quantities. It’s important to stay hydrated…don’t wait until you’re thirsty to get a drink!
  • Take a 5 minute cool-down break in a cool location if you feel the need to do so to prevent overheating and don’t go back to work until you’re feeling better.
  • Allow time to acclimatize when the temperatures get warmer…especially new employees. Most heat illness cases occur within the first week of employment.

Find more information about how to prevent heat illness at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html

Information or recommendations contained in this blog were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations.

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