The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) reminds public agencies to protect outdoor workers from heat illness as high temperatures are again expected throughout California this summer. Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. The standard commonly applies to agency employees who work in public works, maintenance, parks and recreation, community services, code enforcement, and public safety. Heat illness is more likely to occur when workers are not acclimatized to working at full capacity in hot weather, so preparation is essential to stay safe.
Workers must be closely observed for any signs of heat illness when working in these hotter conditions for the first time. Supervisors and workers must be trained on the signs and symptoms of heat illness to know when to take steps to prevent a coworker from getting sick. Employers must also evaluate each worksite and ensure their workers know their procedures for contacting emergency medical services, including directing them to the worksite if needed.
To prevent heat illness, employers are required to provide outdoor workers with fresh and suitably cool water, access to shade, and when needed, cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks. Employers must also maintain a written prevention plan with practical training for supervisors to recognize the common signs and symptoms of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
Public agencies with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:
- Plan: Implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan.
- Training: Train all employees and supervisors on preventing heat illness, including common signs and symptoms.
- Water: Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool, and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least one quart per hour and encourage workers to do so.
- Rest: Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. Workers should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.
- Shade: Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Public agencies are encouraged to take advantage of the following resources offered by Cal/OSHA:
- Heat Illness Prevention Website
- Heat Illness Prevention E-Tool
- Cal/OSHA Webinar on Heat Illness Prevention
Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 40 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 120 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property, and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at cjpia.org.