Heat Illness Reminders

If you have employees that work outside, you need to remember these requirements:

Potable Water Requirements: Employers need to to provide employees with access to potable drinking water that is clean and maintained through individual dispensers, faucets, or drinking fountains. If the worksite doesn’t allow for continuous water replenishment, the employer needs to provide water in sufficient quantity at the beginning of each shift. Each employee needs a minimum of one quart of water per hour for the entire shift.
Amended to add clarify: The water must be fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided free of charge to the employees. It also must be as close as practical to the areas where the employees are working.

Shade Requirements: Currently employers are obligated to provide a shaded area large enough to accommodate at least 25 percent of the employees when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Amended: The new regulation requires employers to provide shade when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the shaded area must be large enough to accommodate all employees on recovery or rest periods. The shade must be large enough to accommodate all employees taking on-site meal breaks and must be located as close as practical to where employees are working.

Preventive Cool-Down Rest Periods: Currently employers are required to allow and encourage employees to take a minimum of 5 minutes for a cool-down rest period if they feel they are in danger of overheating.

Amended: In addition to the above, employers will now be responsible for monitoring employees and ask employees taking a rest period if he/she is experiencing symptoms of heat illness. Employers are expected to encourage employees to remain in the shade, if needed. Employers are also prohibited from ordering employees back to work until signs or symptoms of heat illness have abated.

High-Heat Procedures: The regulation requires employers to implement high-heat procedures when the temperature is at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Employers must ensure there is effective communication between supervisors and employees and observe employees for alertness and signs or symptoms of heat illness.

Under the amended regulations: Employers must implement one of the following: a supervisory ratio of 1 to 20 or fewer employees, a mandatory buddy system, regular communication through electronic device routine with each employee, or another effective means of communication.

In addition, during high-heat conditions, you must hold a pre-shift meeting and review the high heat procedures, encourage employees to drink plenty of water and remind them of their right to take a cool-down rest break when needed.

Emergency Preparedness Requirements: The amendment requires an emergency response preparedness that includes an effective communication with employees by voice, observation or electronic means; an effective response with first-aid workers; and procedures for contacting emergency assistance to help.

Acclimatization: The amendment requires employers to assign supervisors to observe and monitor employees closely during a “heat wave” (any day in which the predicted high temperature for the day will be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at least ten degrees higher than the average high daily temperature in the preceding five days). Also employers must closely monitor any new hires for the first 14-days of employment in a high-heat area.

Training: Adds to the previous training requirements that employers must train employees about: the employer’s responsibility to provide water, shade, cool-down rests, and access to first aid; the employees’ ability to exercise their rights under this standard without retaliation; first aid and emergency response procedures; and acclimatization.

Heat Illness Prevention Plan: Amendment increases the requirements of the Heat Illness Prevention Plan. Employers must establish, implement and maintain an effective heat illness plan in both English and in any language understood by the majority of their employees. The plan must be made available to employees at the worksite and to representatives of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health upon request. It may be included in the employer’s Illness and Injury Prevention Program, but must specifically include procedures for the provision of water and shade, high-heat, emergency response, and acclimatization.

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