California Proposed Heat Safety Rules for Indoor Employees May Be in Trouble

According to a report from National Public Radio (NPR), a proposed heat safety regulation for indoor workers has run into problems in California’s state capital. Only two other U.S. states currently have any type of indoor heat safety rules in place for workers. In this blog post, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney discusses the proposed indoor heat safety regulations

Background: California Has Heat Safety Regulations to Protect Outdoor Workers

California has comprehensive heat safety regulations in place that are designed to protect outdoor workers from the risks associated with high temperatures. Along with other things, these rules require employers to provide adequate water, shade, and rest breaks to outdoor employees in hot conditions. The heat safety regulations take effect when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees. As the temperature rises, the length of required rest breaks for outdoor workers also increases.

California Lacks Specific Workplace Heat Safety Rules for Indoor Workers

Despite having comprehensive regulations for outdoor workers, California currently lacks specific workplace heat safety rules tailored for indoor workers. The gap means that employees working in certain indoor environments—warehouses, factories, etc—may be exposed to extremely high temperatures. Advocates are pushing for change. For example, as reported in the NPR story, a long-time Southern California warehouse worker named Victor Ramirez has felt “painful, unbearable, oppressive heat” in his indoor workplace and even fainted on the job before.

Cal/OSHA Was Set to Vote on Proposed Indoor Workplace Heat Safety Rules

After seven years of research, negotiation, and rule-making developments, proposed regulations from California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) to protect indoor workers from excessive heat were unexpectedly stalled. What was the proposal?

  • The rules would have mandated rights to water, breaks, and cool-down areas for indoor workers when temperatures exceed 82 degrees Fahrenheit—with additional protective measures required at 87 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, just before the final vote, the state’s Department of Finance intervened. The vote was withdrawn, and it is now in jeopardy. Workplace safety advocates were disappointed by the development. As reported by NPR, one felt “blindsided,” and another stated that they were “failed” by regulators.

The path forward for California’s indoor heat safety rules is uncertain following the unexpected intervention by the Department of Finance. Despite this setback, the battle for establishing comprehensive heat safety protections for indoor workers is far from over. Workplace safety advocates emphasize the importance of putting comprehensive protections in place to protect indoor workers from heat-related risks—especially considering the threat of climate change.

Speak to Our Fresno, CA Workers’ Comp Claims Attorney Today

Joseph C. Yrulegui is a workerscompensation attorney with extensive advocating for the rights and interests of injured workers. If you or your loved one suffered a heat-related injury while on the job—whether indoor or outdoor—we can help. Contact us today to set up your strictly confidential, no-commitment initial legal consultation. Our firm fights for workers in Fresno and across the area.