Prepare for heat illness prevention, 4/21/23
Safety and Health
As summer approaches, now is the time to review your safety plans for protecting workers from heat illness hazards. Cal/OSHA requirements depend on outdoor temperature thresholds; Oregon OSHA rules apply to indoor or outdoor work when the heat index reaches certain levels; and Washington's Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) requires heat illness steps to be in place from May 1 through September 30 when outdoor temperatures reach certain levels. In Arizona, Idaho, and Montana, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) treats heat stress under the general duty clause, with an emphasis on industries with high heat exposures, such as agriculture and construction. To implement an effective heat illness prevention plan, you should take the following steps:
- Establish a written heat illness prevention policy that addresses how to respond to emergencies.
- Train employees and supervisors to recognize hazards that cause heat illness, how to prevent or address the hazards, how to recognize heat illness symptoms, and how to respond if someone develops symptoms.
- Provide sufficient fresh water (cold, if possible) and encourage employees to drink adequate amounts.
- Provide extra rest periods and adequate shade for everyone during rest periods and meals.
- Consider other options for helping employees cool off, such as fans and misting stations.
- Establish a program for new or returning employees to acclimate to warmer temperatures.
Tips: For additional questions about how to protect workers from heat illness, please contact your Vigilant safety professional, and see the following list of heat illness prevention resources for more information:
- Federal OSHA occupational heat exposure web page
- Industrial Commission of Arizona heat stress awareness web page and Arizona Dept. of Health Services outdoor worker toolkit
- Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention web page and heat illness e-tool
- Oregon OSHA heat stress web page
- Washington Dept. of Labor & Industries outdoor heat exposure publications
If you’re in California, Oregon, or Washington, review our Legal Guide, Heat Illness Prevention in the Workplace, for the specific requirements in those states. Also, be aware there are proposed rules in Washington and California that will expand the existing requirements, which we will report on once finalized.