As summer heats up so does the pressure for California business owners. As Bloomberg BNA reports, a proposed rule from California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will require employers to have a written plan in place to keep heat illnesses from occurring indoors. Cal/OSHA hopes to have the final rule in place by January 1, 2019. There are already regulations in place to protect workers outdoors in high-temperature situations, such as restaurants and warehouses.
Studies have shown that regulations for employees in high-heat areas are especially important for people who are new to the job. Out of 13 deaths caused by high temperatures, nine of the people died in the first three days on the job. Earlier versions of the proposed rule included special rules as an employee was introduced into the work. The earlier version also had a temperature trigger of 80 or 90 degrees that was reliant upon the difficulty of labor being performed. Some labor advocates are concerned that these regulations are no longer in the most recent version. They are also concerned that basing it upon temperature, rather than heat index, could have workers being exposed to unsafe conditions. Some business owners say the newer rules are less confusing for employers.
It has not yet been determined at what temperature exactly these rules will begin to apply. In the latest version of the Cal/OSHA proposal, which was available on May 11, 85 degrees would be the time when providing water and more breaks would become required.
There is no federal mandate for heat illness prevention, but federal OSHA can still consider a heat-related death or injury as foreseeable, and thus the employer’s responsibility to protect against.