Protect Outdoor Workers From Heat Illness

Len WilcoxAgriculture, California Corner

heat illness

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reminds all employers to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and to monitor high temperature advisories and warnings in their region.

California’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor workers, including those in agriculture, construction and landscaping. Other workers protected by the standard include those that spend a significant amount of time working outdoors such as security guards and groundskeepers, or in non-air conditioned vehicles such as transportation and delivery drivers.

Employers must assess each worksite and protect their workers from heat illness while also taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is currently widespread in the community and considered a workplace hazard. Employers should be attentive to allow enough space and time for employees to take breaks as needed in adequate shade while also maintaining a safe distance from one another. Extra infection prevention measures should be in place such as disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, including the water and restroom facilities.

Employers with outdoor workers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness:

Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.

Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.

Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage workers to do so.

Shade – Provide shade when workers request it or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.

More details and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and at

Employers and workers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.

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