News story provided by California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) revised the heat illness prevention standard §3395 to include new high-heat rules that were effective November 2010. The new high-heat rules apply to employers in five industries including agriculture and agricultural transportation and delivery. Make sure your company’s heat illness prevention program includes the following updated safety standards that clarify shade and water requirements as well as high heat procedures:
Access to Shade and Water
• Whenever temperatures are predicted to exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, shade must be available to cover at least 25 percent of the employees present at the site. Shade and water must be located as close as is practical to where employees are working. (Best practices indicate that it is best to put up the shade immediately upon arriving at the worksite.)
• When temperatures are below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must provide timely access to shaded cover after receiving a request from an employee.
• If an employer is able to show that providing the shaded cover is unsafe and/or impractical, they may implement alternative measures for providing shade. However, the alternative measures must provide the same measure of heat protection.
High Heat Procedures
The employer shall implement high-heat procedures when the temperature equals or exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit. These procedures shall include the following to the extent practicable:
• Ensure that effective communication by voice, observation, or electronic means is maintained so that employees at the worksite can contact a supervisor when necessary. An electronic device, such as a cell phone or text messaging device, may be used for this purpose only if reception in the area is reliable.
• Employees should be observed for alertness and signs or symptoms of heat illness.
• Employees should be reminded and encouraged throughout the work shift to drink plenty of water.
• New employees should be closely supervised by a supervisor or designee for the first 14 days of the employee’s employment by the employer, unless the employee indicates at the time of hire that he or she has been doing similar outdoor work for at least 10 of the past 30 days for 4 or more hours per day.