As the official beginning of summer nears, it is a good time for workers and employers in California to review safety tips to prevent heat illness while on the job. Particularly at the start of the season, it is not unusual for individuals to forget how to remain safe and healthy while working outside during the warmest months of the year.
Workers particularly at risk of being affected by heat illness include those who must spend long hours outside performing highly physical tasks, such as construction workers and individuals who work on farms.
When someone works outside during particularly warm weather, the body is not always capable of temperature regulation, which can cause a number of different types of illnesses. On the milder side, individuals may suffer from heat rash or cramps caused by heat. If these illnesses are not treated and the individual does not take a break to cool down, he or she may develop more serious forms of heat illness.
If precautions are not taken, workers may suffer from heat exhaustion or even heatstroke after working in hot temperatures. According to the Mayo Clinic, heatstroke occurs when an individual’s body temperatures is 104 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. When someone is suffering from heatstroke, he or she must receive immediate medical attention, to prevent damage to the brain, kidneys, heart and muscles.
In California, employers must take action – in the form of four steps – to protect their workers from developing heat illness. The specifics of these requirements are outlined in California’s Heat Illness Prevention regulation.
First, employers must ensure all of their employees, including supervisors, receive training regarding the best ways to avoid heat illness. Employers must also have a written plan in place to demonstrate the procedures they will use to ensure their employees are protected while on the job.
In addition, employers are required to provide water to employees – at a minimum of one quart every hour per employee. Employees should be allowed to take breaks as necessary to ensure they are consuming enough water while working in the elements. Employers should also ensure that their employees have a shady area to rest throughout the day. It is important to ensure that employees are taking breaks, even when they are not feeling ill.
If you have suffered from heat illness while on the job in California, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation payments. Seeking the advice of a qualified legal professional will ensure your rights are protected.