Cal/OSHA Adopts New Heat Illness Regulations

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board has adopted new heat illness regulations which, once approved, will supersede the emergency standard that was adopted in response to the significant increase in the number of heat-related incidents reported to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health ("Division") since July 12, 2005.

The regulations will be codified as the new Section 3395 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. Currently, a number of existing Title 8 standards address requirements for controlling heat-related illness, including the development of an injury and illness prevention program, provision of drinking water, and emergency first aid and medical response preparedness. The new regulations supplement these existing requirements and establish specific control and training measures to reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

The requirements of the new Section 3395 are limited to employers with employees having significant exposure to outdoor work. Their intended effect is to protect employees performing such work from the increased risk of heat illness that can result from working without the protection that indoor working environments can provide. The new standard will be applicable at all times where employees are engaging in outdoor work.

In general, the new regulations require:

  • Provision of water: Drinking water needs to be provided in sufficient quantity at the beginning of the work shift to provide one quart (four cups) per employee per hour for the entire shift.
  • Provision of shade: Employees suffering from heat illness or in need of a preventative recovery period must be provided with shade for a period of no less than five minutes.
  • Training: Employees and supervisors must be trained on how to recognize, prevent and respond to heat illness, its early symptoms, and risk factors for its occurrence.

The language of subsection(a) of the new Section 3395 clarifies that employers may, if they choose, integrate the requirements of the new standard into their Injury and Illness Prevention Program that is required by Section 3203 of the California Code of Regulations. It also reiterates the Division’s authority to enforce the new standard and references sections of the Labor Code that prohibit discriminating against employees for exercising their rights provided by this and other occupational safety and health standards.

The Office of Administrative Law ("OAL") has 30 days to review the new regulations for necessity, authority, clarity, consistency, reference, non-duplication and their impact on California business. Upon concluding its review, the OAL will set the effective date for the new regulations.