OSHA has brought back its heat illness prevention campaign for the fourth straight year.
“OSHA considers the heat illness prevention campaign to be a high priority, so employers should expect it to become an annual event and plan accordingly,” warns attorney John F. Martin of the law firm of Ogletree Deakins
Since 2010, the state of California has issued more citations for violations of its stricter heat illness standard than for most other violations. Among the prime targets are third-party logistics warehouses.
To know how much water or rest to provide employees start by using the guidance on OSHA’s website and its smartphone app to establish a heat illness prevention program, Martin says. “The app is simple to use—simply plug in your work area’s high temperature for the day and its humidity levels, and the app provides recommendations.”
OSHA recommends workers drink water in small amounts often throughout the day, even when not thirsty. Martin urges employers to use bottled water instead of large potable water containers. “Not only is the water cleaner, it is easier to track how much to bring and how much employees consume.”
Employees should wear light-colored clothing, pace work and gradually build up (acclimatize) to the heaviest work. Work and rest periods should be modified to account for the heat, Martin urged.
“Monitor workers for potential heat illness symptoms, such as excessive sweating, headaches, dizziness and confusion,” he said. “Train them to recognize risk factors, the importance of acclimatization, how to prevent heat illness and emergency response.”
Another method is to follow California’s heat illness standard, which requires an employee drink a quart of water per hour and take regular rest breaks when the outdoor temperature reaches 85 degrees.
In May Cal OSHA proposed standards for outdoor work, including transportation and deliveries, that would add significant burdens to employers. See here: www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/doshreg/Final-Discussion-Draft.2014-07.HeatAdvComm.pdf