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Cal/OSHA Launches 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

FRESNO, Calif., March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Cal/OSHA launched the 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Program to educate employers and workers on the risks of prolonged heat exposure at outdoor worksites. The annual kickoff was held at a bilingual training sponsored by Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League and other agricultural employers.  The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California's heat illness standard.

"Our partnerships with business and labor help us educate workers and employers alike on how to prevent heat illness injuries at outdoor worksites," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). "Regular training is a key component of workplace safety." Cal/OSHA, also known as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is a division of DIR.

Employing a multi-faceted approach, Cal/OSHA uses enforcement, outreach and training modules to educate workers and employers of the health hazards that high temperatures present. 

"Employers at outdoor worksites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job," said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. "Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeted on those employers who put their workers' safety at risk."

Targeted inspections of outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, construction, and landscaping will be conducted throughout the heat season. 

Employers at outdoor worksites are required to ensure that basic precautions are followed:

  • Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention.
  • Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to hydrate frequently.
  • Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool down and recovery break.
  • Ensure that workers "acclimatize" by gradually adjusting their bodies to high heat. This is especially important for new workers and during heat waves as temperatures may surge suddenly.
  • Prepare an emergency heat illness prevention plan for the worksite, including training for supervisors and workers on steps to take if a worker shows signs of heat illness.

When temperatures reach 95 degrees, Cal/OSHA regulations require that special "High Heat" procedures be implemented. Supervisors must take extra precautions to mitigate risks to workers:

  • Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  • Remind workers to drink water frequently.
  • Provide close supervision of workers in the first 14 days of employment (to ensure safe acclimatization).
  • Test communication systems to guarantee that emergency assistance can be reached if necessary.

Questions related to heat illness and safety or complaints should be directed to the Cal/OSHA district office in your region, where you may also file a confidential report. For assistance from Cal/OSHA's Consultation Program, employers can call (800) 963-9424.

Visit Cal/OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention and the Water. Rest. Shade. public awareness campaign websites for more information and materials, and follow Cal/OSHA on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Cal/OSHA continues its statewide public awareness campaign to educate vulnerable outdoor worker populations in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Hmong, and Mixteco. The campaign combines outreach efforts with outdoor and radio announcements, distribution of printed materials and safety videos in the target languages.  

The State of California Worker Information Hotline, toll free at 1-866-924-9757, provides recorded information in Spanish and English on a variety of work-related issues.

For media inquiries contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046.

SOURCE California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA

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