Summer is fast approaching. With temperatures often soaring into the triple digits all across the state, proper safety precautions are a must. Hot weather can be dangerous weather—especially for people who work outside. On April 26, 2023, Cal/OSHA issued official state guidance reminding businesses and organizations to take the proper safety measures to protect their outdoor employees this summer. Within this article, our Fresno workers’ compensation lawyer discusses the guidance issued by Cal/OSHA.
Know Your Rights: Outdoor Employees and Hot Weather in California
Central California gets hot in the summer. That it is a relatively dry heat in most locations does not prevent much discomfort. According to data from the National Weather Service, the average high temperatures in July in Fresno reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Cal/OSHA is proactively reminding employers of the dangers of heat-related illness. When temperatures are above 80 degrees in California, employers have a duty to ensure that their outdoor workers are properly protected. Here are five things that people who work outdoors should know about their rights during hot weather:
- A Detailed Plan: Your employer should not make up heat safety protocols on the fly. Cal/OSHA requires employers to develop a comprehensive heat illness prevention plan. A plan should include a strategy for the identification and evaluation of heat risks, establishing effective communication procedures, and detailed emergency response processes.
- Proper Training: High heat is a very serious safety issue. Proper training is essential. Employers must provide training to supervisors and employees on heat illness prevention. As an employee who works outdoors, it is your right to have the right training.
- Adequate Water: During the height of summer, hydration can be a life-or-death matter. Cal/OSHA mandates that employers supply sufficient drinking water to all outdoor workers. Employees should have access to clean, cool water close to their work area and be encouraged to drink at least one quart per hour.
- Additional Rest: Workers who are outside during high heat need additional rest breaks. These breaks should be taken in a shaded or temperature-controlled area, allowing workers to cool down and recover. Scheduling regular breaks, along with adjusting workloads and schedules, can help prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.
- Regular Shade: Finally, it is also important to emphasize that regular shade is necessary. A worker cannot safely be in the sun for very long periods of time without shade on a hot day. Periodic breaks in a shaded area should be offered to outdoor workers when the temperature is at least 80 degrees.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a Fresno work injury lawyer with deep experience navigating complex claims. If you or your loved one suffered a heat-related illness on the job, we are here to help. Contact us now for a fully private review of your case. Our team represents injured workers in Fresno and throughout the San Joaquin Valley region.