Indoor Heat Standard Critical Language Changes

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA) has updated the indoor heat standard proposal, refining some of the language used from the proposal initially announced earlier in the year.  AgNet West has been following the development of the indoor heat standard, which will require control measures to be taken by an employer when the heat index equals or exceeds 87 degrees Fahrenheit in indoor working conditions.

indoor heat standard“There have been some, what I consider critical points of clarification,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe.  “And to me represents some effective efforts on the part of employer stakeholders to ensure that clarifying language has been added, such that we as employers do our due diligence in complying but aren’t raked over the coals.”

Wolfe noted there are approximately 12 to 15 changes that have been made since the last draft was released in April.  Mainly, finer detail has been provided to the defining factors of the scope and application of the standard.  One of the changes included the distinction that compliance for the standard is only expected when employees are physically present.  Further clarification pertaining to how the heat index applies to indoor work areas was also added.  “That kind of clarifying language is important in terms of knowing when would enforcement seek to enforce the parameters of this new proposed regulation,” said Wolfe.  

CalOSHA is already significantly behind schedule as to when this regulation was intended to be established.  Legislation was passed back in 2017 directing CalOSHA to have the standard ready to be reviewed by the CalOSHA Standards Board by January 2019.  The amount of detail included in the draft proposal at this point in the process is an indication that CalOSHA is attempting to make up time by drafting a standard that the Standards Board will have an easier time passing it to the next phase.  Wolfe said that it is unlikely that more changes will be coming to the proposal prior to the next step in the process.

“I would say that this is the version of the standard that’s now going to go to the Department of Finance and again the next phase of this process is doing an in-depth, financial analysis,” Wolfe noted.  “CalOSHA staff expects that that process will take upwards of a year at best to figure out what the financial impact will be to the employer community for compliance.”

Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West