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Temperatures still high in California; outdoor workers at risk

Although fall is almost here, California is still experiencing high temperatures much of the time. While this hot weather seemingly exacerbates the effects of the forest fires and drought plaguing parts of the state, the temperatures also pose a threat to workers who primarily work outdoors.

In mid September, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and heat advisories. In response, the state branch of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) reminded employers to protect their workers by following protocols for heat regulation. The agency said it also plans to focus on inspections of outdoor worksites to ensure compliance.

An employer with outdoor workers must do the following when temperatures soar:

  • Give workers access to shade and encourage rest breaks throughout the day
  • Provide one quart (or more) of water per hour for workers and encourage them to drink freely and often in order to stay hydrated
  • Develop written procedures for how the company will comply with the Cal/OSHA Heal Illness Prevention Standard and then implement those procedures
  • Train supervisors and employees on those procedures

Even more stringent protocols go into effect if/when the temperature reaches 95 degrees or higher.

Working in a hot environment isn't just unpleasant; it's very dangerous. Cal/OSHA's chief didn't mince words when she warned that "workers can die when temperatures are elevated."

If you've been seriously injured or sickened in a preventable workplace accident, you may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits or to pursue legal redress for your injuries. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and options.

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