Protecting Outdoor Workers from Heat Illness During Periods of Excessive Heat
In California, employers with outdoor workplaces are mandated by Section 3395 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations to establish a Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) plan. This regulation is designed to safeguard employees from heat-related illnesses, which can lead to serious health conditions such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The HIP plan should encompass provisions for sufficient water, shade, rest periods, and emergency response procedures. Additionally, it necessitates employers to offer training to all employees about the prevention of heat illness. Adherence to this plan not only promotes the well-being of employees but also ensures compliance with state regulations, helping to avoid potential legal and financial consequences.
California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) provides several resources and an e-tool to assist employers with their Heat Illness Prevention program and procedures.
Sample procedures and checklist for a Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) program (PDF)
A complete Heat Illness Prevention program includes:
- Purpose: The purpose of the HIP program is to ensure that employees understand the risk of heat illness and know how to prevent it. The program is designed to comply with Title 8 Section 3395 of the California Code of Regulations.
- Scope: The program applies to all outdoor areas of operation during periods of high heat.
- Responsibility: The employer is responsible for implementing and maintaining the HIP program. This includes training employees, providing water and shade, and monitoring weather conditions.
- Procedure: The procedure section outlines the steps to be taken to prevent heat illness. These include:
- Provision of Water: Employees should have access to fresh, pure, and suitably cool water. They should be encouraged to drink 1 quart per hour.
- Access to Shade: Employees should have access to shade when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They should be allowed and encouraged to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes.
- High-Heat Procedures: When the temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the employer should implement additional procedures, such as observing employees for signs of heat illness and reminding them to drink plenty of water.
- Emergency Response Procedures: The employer should establish and implement emergency response procedures, including how to provide first aid and emergency medical services.
- Acclimatization: New employees or those returning from extended leave should be closely observed for the first 14 days of employment.
- Training: All employees and supervisors should receive training on the HIP program, including the risk factors for heat illness, the importance of frequent consumption of water, and the right to take a cool-down rest in the shade.
- Recordkeeping: The employer should maintain records of the steps taken to implement and maintain the HIP program.
- Program Review: The employer should review the HIP program annually and revise it as necessary.
A properly implemented Heat Illness Prevention program provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees of Member Districts, particularly those working outdoors. It ensures that workers are protected from the risks associated with heat exposure, promoting their overall wellbeing and productivity. Furthermore, it demonstrates the Member Districts’ commitment to employee safety and regulatory compliance, enhancing their reputation as responsible and caring entities. Ultimately, a well-executed Heat Illness Prevention program is an investment in the workforce that yields significant benefits for employees and the Member Districts.