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California set to implement heat-related workplace injury rules

A study was recently published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOS). It suggests that state agency's new employees are particularly vulnerable to suffering heat-related illnesses during their first days working there.

In fact, an OSHA analysis determined that of 13 different citations it issued to companies for deaths resulting from heat-related illnesses, nine of those happened to occur during the first three days the employee had worked at the job.

It's because of this that California OSHA officials recently drafted new safety rules aimed at protecting employees who work indoors in hot spaces. Under the new rule, which was proposed on May 11, 2017, state employers will be required to craft a written plan for how they are going to prevent heat-related illnesses in their workplaces.

In this particular case, any workplace that reaches as high as 85 degrees is one where an employer is required to implement certain precautions to avoid employee heat-related injury or death. If those temperatures were met, an employer, at the very least, would be expected to offer their employees access to complimentary cool water and the opportunity to take cool-down breaks.

California OSHA hopes to see the newly updated rule implemented by Jan. 1, 2019.

Under current federal OSHA standards, the threat of heat-related injury or death is not specifically mentioned. Instead, safety precautions reference employers being required to take necessary precautions to protect their employees from injury or death associated with foreseeable hazards.

As we wait for this new safety rule to be implemented, there will assuredly be more heat-related injuries and deaths that will occur. If you or a loved one is victimized by an employer during that time frame, you may still be entitled to file a claim an injury claim against them. In reviewing your case with a Santa Ana workers' compensation attorney, he or she can advise you as to the merits of your case.

Source: Bloomberg, "Heat Is on for California Worker Protections," Bruce Rolfsen, May 17, 2017

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