On April 26th, 2022, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued an official reminder that employers have a legal responsibility to protect outdoor workers from the risk posed by heal-related illnesses and exposure to harmful wildfire smoke. With the summer months fast approaching, employers must put the proper health and safety precautions in place. In this article, our Fresno work injury attorney provides an overview of the rights of outdoor workers.
Outdoor Workers Have the Right to a Safe Workplace Environment
It is no secret that Central California can become blazing hot during the height of summer. In July, the average daily high temperature in Fresno is 99 degrees. Triple digit heat is a regular occurrence. The high heat—and potential for drifting wildfire smoke—can present a serious health and safety risk to outdoor workers. As someone who works in an outdoor environment in California, you deserve a reasonably safe environment. Here is an overview of California’s legal requirements:
- Employers Must Plan: First and foremost, California requires employers to put proper heat prevention and wildfire smoke safety plans in place. These plans must be effective.
- Training is Necessary: Employers that have outdoor employees must provide basic training on heat illnesses and heat illness prevention.
- Water: Outdoor workers have a right to water breaks. Each outdoor worker must be given a minimum of a quart of water per hour when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees.
- Rest in the Shade: When the temperature is above 80 degrees, outdoor workers must be encouraged to take regular five minute breaks in the shade to cool down.
- Wildfire Smoke Monitoring: Your employer should monitor wildfires in the area. At certain levels, respiratory protection (N95 mask) must be provided by the employer. When smoke is too high to work safely, outdoor work cannot continue.
Outdoor Worker Illnesses and Injuries: Recovering Compensation
If you or your loved one suffered a heat-related illness, wildfire smoke related illness, or any other injury while working outdoors in California, it is crucial that you know your rights and responsibilities. Here are three things to keep in mind:
- Medical Needs Come First: You have the right to seek immediate medical attention for a heat related illness. Your medical needs always come first.
- Notify Your Employer: Be sure to notify your supervisor or employer of your condition. Do so as soon as possible. California law requires notice within 30 days.
- File for Workers’ Comp Benefits: If you sought medical care and/or missed time on the job due to a heat-related illness, you have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. These are no-fault benefits available to employees injured or made ill on the job in California.
Consult With a Fresno, CA Workers’ Comp Attorney Right AwayJoseph C. Yrulegui advocates for injured workers. If you were injured or made ill while working outdoors in summer, we can help. Contact us today to set up your completely confidential case assessment. We represent outdoor workers throughout Fresno County, including in Fresno, Parlier, Kerman, Kingsburg, Selma, and Coalinga.