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OSHA reminds California employers to protect workers from heat

With California's temperatures beginning to increase over the spring and heading into summer, workers in construction, agriculture, landscaping and other outdoors jobs will be stressed to stay cool and stay healthy. With this in mind, California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging employers to help protect workers by observing agency regulations that address the prevention of heat illness, especially those in major population and agricultural centers. The steps are basic but critically important to preventing severe worker illness and death.

The first is proper training. Employees and superiors alike should be properly trained in how to prevent heat illness.

The second is having cool water available at all times so that workers can stay hydrated. Rehydration is so important in preventing heat illness that employees should be encouraged to drink regularly.

The third is to provide shaded recovery areas. Even with frequent water breaks, employees still need refuge from the sun.

The fourth is to establish a comprehensive heat-illness prevention plan. Every worker and supervisor should be able to recognize the signs of illness and be able to take measures immediately to prevent further illness.

The fifth is to make sure all employees and managers know who exactly to call in an emergency and what information to provide. This information should be easily accessible in case of emergency.

California has special requirements when temperatures hit 95 degrees. This includes close supervision during a 14-day acclimatization process for new workers.

Despite precautions, illness and injury can and do happen. When they do, the affected employee may file a claim for workers' compensation to receive benefits. Being injured and unable to work for a living is a frightening possibility for many California workers and their families. Fortunately, receiving benefits during recovery from injury or illness can alleviate a worker's financial fears.

Source: EHS Today, "Cal/OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Workers from Heat Illness," Josh Cable, May 14, 2014

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