SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weather forecasts are calling for high 90s and triple-digit temperatures in interior Northern California through Thursday. Agricultural employers should be prepared to protect outdoor workers and to be in full compliance with the Heat Illness Prevention standard. Some basic points to remember:
- Be sure shade is available on demand when the temperature is below 80 degrees F, shade must be provided at all times when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees F, as close as practicable to where employees are working;
- Shade must be provided to all employees on a rest or meal break,except those who choose to take a meal break elsewhere (editor’s note: provision of shade as usual may not be consistent with social distancing recommended by various COVID-19 guidance; ag employers implementing heat illness shade requirements can ensure adequate shade consistent with social distancing requirements by staggering meal and rest breaks, but additional shade may be necessary);
- Fresh, pure, and suitably cool water must be made available in sufficient quantities (replenishment is permissible) to allow each employee to drink one quart per hour;
- Water is to be provided as close as practicable to location of work;
- Employees must be trained about heat illness and the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) Standard before they work in conditions where they might be exposed to heat;
- Supervisors must be additionally trained in HIP compliance procedures, emergency responses, and ensuring effective communication to facilitate emergency response.
- A written copy of your HIP program in English and the language understood by the majority of the employees and be available to employees and Cal/OSHA inspectors on request — this is the most frequently-cited part of the HIP standard — and probably the most easily-avoided HIP citation!
- Remember: When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, employers must implement “high heat” procedures, including a mandatory 10 minute break every two hours (meal and rest periods can serve as these breaks, but if employees work beyond eight hours or waive meal or rest periods, you must still ensure the mandatory rest break occurs).
FELS HIP standard and heat illness resources can be found at this link.
— Farm Employers Labor Service
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