Cal/OSHA Code & Compliance Rules To address now for Outdoor Workers

Posted by Melodie Elliott on Wed, Jun 07, 2017 @ 12:52 PM

June is National Safety Month, as deemed by the National Safety Council. Nationally, worker safety and health on the job is advocated through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA. In addition to OSHA regulations, further worker protection is provided by individual state regulatory agencies. In California, that agency is the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and it is better known as Cal/OSHA. Nationally, Cal/OSHA is known to be a trailblazer for developing the most stringent regulations to protect employees.  Often, other states look to this agency’s regulations as an example to follow and mirror for adoption into their own states.

Outdoor working conditions began showing up on Cal/OSHA’s radar in 2006 after a July heat wave took the lives of multiple workers.  During the last ten years, the agency has created important mandates to regulate outdoor workplaces to prevent heat illness and undue fatalities. This map from OSHA shows why this is a real concern in California:

Map from OSHA on heat illness in USA.jpg

Image above from:

More recently, in 2015 Cal/OSHA amended the Heat Illness Prevention Regulation. While there are many specific codes, it is important to note if you operate a business in California with workers that are directly impacted by hot working conditions outdoors there is one particular regulation to be sure to review: Title 8 Section 3395 – Heat Illness Prevention.  This regulation can significantly affect your daily operating procedures. To summarize in the most basic terms, it requires California employers with agricultural workers, construction workers, landscapers and any other industry with outdoor workers to provide more than adequate water, shade, rest breaks and training.  This rule applies when temperatures are over 80°F; however, it should be noted that additional requirements apply when the outdoor temperature exceeds 95°F.  Cal/OSHA has determined that at 95°F, outdoor workers are at high risk for heat-related illnesses and a more stringent set of rules must be followed.

To stand in compliance with these regulations above 95°F, business owners must provide a minimum ten-minute net preventative cool-down rest period every two hours, as well as provide workers drinking water, first aid and emergency response. Additionally, employers must have in place “an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)” as outlined by Cal/OSHA. You can peruse the particulars in the link above for Title 8 Section 3395.

The key takeaways, however, to make sure your business stays ahead of regulation is to implement preventative measures.  Your planning (and if in California, to be outlined in your IIPP) should include:

  • The basics - Providing water, scheduling rest and ensuring there is a shaded area for cool-down and recovery.
  • Training – Go above and beyond to train supervisors on safety planning. This includes knowing the forecast before the shift begins and planning accordingly, buddy systems for the workers, etc.
  • Knowledge – Beyond training, make sure your team understands how the body handles heat and hot conditions so they can take the risk seriously. As temperatures rise, the body releases heat more slowly. As humidity increases, the body’s sweat evaporation decreases and stagnant air makes sweat evaporation more difficult. This is why shade is not listed as adequate when heat in the area of shade defeats the purpose of shade, which is to allow the body to cool. Metal storage buildings, insides of vehicles and areas near heat generating equipment are NOT considered to be adequate shade areas.
  • Proactive “cool-downs” with shade – Offering cooling can be tough outdoors, but aside from water and creating a shaded space (with a canopy, tent, etc.), creating a cooler space or station can help the body recover. Consider placing a practical, portable evaporative cooler such as Portacool evaporative coolers  These coolers come in a range of sizes with heavy-duty castors to provide easy mobility for achieving cooling where it is needed. The coolers work-off a standard 110-V plug making it easy to use in hard to cool spaces or outdoors. Evaporative coolers work with the ambient air and water to provide a noticeable difference in air temperature.
  • Tools for heat-recovery – In addition to creating a cooling station, consider handing out cooling towels to help aid in temperature recovery.
  • Plan for acclimatization – Building up a worker’s tolerance to the heat is important. According to Cal/OSHA’s code: (1) all employees shall be closely observed by a supervisor or designee during a heat wave. For purposes of this section only, “heat wave” means any day in which the predicted high temperature for the day will be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at least ten degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average high daily temperature in the preceding five days. (2) An employee who has been newly assigned to a high heat area shall be closely observed by a supervisor or designee for the first 14 days of the employee's employment.

 Planning is key.  Be sure to be ahead of the heat this summer to protect worker safety and meet regulations.

Article source for more info:

Topics: OSHA, California, Portacool, @heatstress, portable coolers, #calosha, Heat Illness, Title 8 Section 3395, portable evaporative cooler, outdoor heat, working environments

Heat Is More Than A Temperature Reading

Posted by Melodie Elliott on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 @ 04:45 PM

Assessing risk for heat-related illnesses means looking beyond the thermometer to other indicators that add to the potential for illness or injury. The “heat index” is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a single value that takes both temperature and humidity into account. Put simply, it can feel much warmer when the heat index value is factored in because it combines air temperatures and humidity to describe perceived outdoor temperature.

The key thing to know is the higher the heat index, the hotter the weather feels given that sweat does not readily evaporate and cool the skin. According to OSHA, the heat index is a better measure than air temperature alone for assessing the risk to workers from environmental heat sources.*


This guide helps employers and worksite supervisors prepare & implement hot weather plans.
This guidance is available online at


Take care to protect your employees in these conditions. Provide water. Offer regular breaks in the shade. If air-conditioning is unavailable or impractical, consider creating a cooling station where a portable evaporative cooler can be placed to help lower temperatures by as much as 30°F. Precaution and prevention are the keys to keeping employees safe when the mercury AND heat index rise.

*Source:; wording taken verbatim from Introduction to OSHA’s “Using the Heat Index: A Guide for Employers”

Topics: evaporative cooling, heat stress, OSHA, heat index

The Cost of Heat-Related Injuries

Posted by Melodie Elliott on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 03:30 PM

We all know that heat intense environments are uncomfortable, but in a working environment it can be costly to a company’s bottom-line. Heat-stress and heat-related illnesses are a very real challenge in the summer months. If you are a manager or owner of a business that conducts work outdoors or in an un-air-conditioned setting, it is important to assess the risks AHEAD of a heat-related illness or injury. OSHA offers a tool that estimates just how much an accident can cost in terms of impacting profitability:

Using the tool, if you select “Heat Prostration” as the Injury type and use their 3% default profit margin, you will find that just ONE heat-related accident can have a direct cost a direct of more than $23,000 with indirect costs doubling the amount.


OSHA’s $afety Pays Program, “Estimated Costs of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Estimated Impact on a Company’s Profitability Worksheet

Studies have also shown that you risk a 16.6% decrease in productivity when working in temperatures over 92°F as noted in the following illustration. In fact, high temperatures increase the likelihood of injury or illness and that can result in higher legal and insurance costs.


Take steps now, not after it is too late. Be proactive in guarding against heat-stress. In addition to providing hydration and scheduling breaks, consider using a portable evaporative cooler to lower ambient temperatures in the workplace. Cooler working conditions will help reduce the threat of heat-related illnesses, increase worker effectiveness and reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents.

Topics: OSHA, evaporative coolers, heat stress; productivity,, avoid heat stress, @heatstress

Every Degree Matters

Posted by Melodie Elliott on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 04:30 PM

Heat related illness and deaths are a real concern for employers and workers. According to the National Safety Council, 11 American workers die on the job each day. As we continue to think about safety this month, taking preventative steps to reducing heat related illnesses is key.


Source: National Safety Council, “Safety at Work”

Heat-related illness can be prevented. Take measures to combat heat-related injuries:

  1. Make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand.
  2. Schedule rest breaks and add a cooling station when possible with tools such as a portable evaporative cooler that works on a standard 110-V from worksites.
  3. Stay aware of conditions with your phone or tablet, especially if working outdoors. Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15°F. OSHA has an app (download info here) to help calculate the heat index for the worksite and helps to identify the risk level.
  4. Be informed by reviewing the heat illness signs and symptoms. Training is this area is worthwhile.
  5. Use a buddy system. Monitor each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

For more information about safety while working in the heat, see OSHA's heat illness webpage and online guidance page for employers that outlines how to use the heat index to protect workers.

Topics: heat stress, Extreme Heat, OSHA, evaporative coolers, National Safety Council, avoid heat stress, NSC, portabable evaporative cooler

June is National Safety Month

Posted by Melodie Elliott on Tue, Jun 02, 2015 @ 10:45 AM

This month, via promotion of National Safety Month, the National Security Council is encouraging everyone to take extra care and precaution to maintain personal and work safety. As you can imagine, heat is one of the biggest safety concerns during the summer. Working in a hot environment can be more than uncomfortable, it can be a health risk and dangerous. According to the Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, each year thousands of people become sick from heat-related illnesses. Last year, at least 30 workers in this country died from heat exposure.

It is important to understand how the body handles heat and hot conditions. As temperatures rise, the body releases heat more slowly. As humidity increases, sweat evaporation decreases and stagnant air makes sweat evaporation more difficult. When these three factors are combined, you have a higher potential for health and safety concerns.*

In addition to the personal health risks, it is important to note that you are putting yourself and others in your work environment at risk when you are not properly prepared for the heat. The chances for accidents due to sweaty hands, dizziness and decreased mental alertness go up considerably in hot conditions. Additionally, increased body temperature and discomfort can lead to irritability and frustration that could lend to more careless behavior.

The key to staying safe in the heat is to take preventative measures. OSHA advises workers to follow these simple steps:

  • WATER: You need plenty of water throughout the day—every 15 minutes. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
  • REST: Rest breaks help your body recover.
  • SHADE: Resting in the shade or in air-conditioning helps you cool down.

 Keep in mind that cool air from evaporative coolers can also be a practical alternative when air conditioned spaces are unavailable as noted in the “shade” step. Portacool evaporative coolers are portable and work off a standard 110-V plug making accessibility easy in hard-to-cool spaces or outdoors. You could even consider setting-up a cooling station.

Browns_Orchard_in_center_from_Misty Houston_Hobby_airport

Taking care to follow these tips can go a long way. This month we’ll continue to explore various heat-safety topics. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

*Source: Click-Safety Heat Stress Course

Topics: evaporative cooling, heat stress, OSHA, cooling station, cooling solutions, National Safety Month

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