CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — California requires employers whose employees work outdoors to implement heat illness prevention measures.

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 344 workers died from environmental heat exposure between 2011 and 2019.

In addition to normal OSHA protections provided by the federal government, outdoor workers on the job have the right to water, shade, and cool-down periods.

Below are some of the specifics related to those rights laid out by the California Department of Industrial Relations on its website.

Water

  • Employers are required to provide workers with free drinkable water as “close as practical” to the worksite.
  • If a plumbed, running source of water is unavailable, then employers must provide at least one quart of water per employee per hour.
  • During hot weather, the water provided by employers must be cooler than the ambient temperature.

Shade

  • When temperatures exceed 80 degrees, agricultural industry employers must provide shade if no other source of shade is readily available at the worksite. Employers in non-agricultural industries can instead provide alternative cooling methods such as misting fans.
  • When temperatures are below 80 degrees, shade must still be provided if requested by workers.
  • Shade structures are considered inadequate if it does not allow the employee to cool down. For example, the inside of a car or metal shed may provide shade, but can be hotter than just being outside.

Cool-down breaks

  • When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, agriculture workers must take a ten-minute cool-down break every two hours
  • Employees are allowed to take cool-down rests in shade for at least five minutes when they feel it’s needed to prevent overheating.

Employers need to be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illnesses in workers. In temperatures exceeding 95 degrees, employers in certain industries must implement a specific plan for monitoring employees for heat illness such as having a mandatory buddy system or designating a person to watch a group of 20 or fewer employees

Employers are also required to have a heat illness prevention plan in writing both in English and in the language understood by a majority of the workers available to employees at the worksite.