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Cal/OSHA Standards Board Adopts Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Rule


Indoor Heat IllnessLast week, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted the long-awaited regulations to protect employees working indoors from heat illness.

The California Legislature had directed the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to develop indoor heat illness standards in 2016. Cal/OSHA has been working on this draft regulation since then, though its progress was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic as Cal/OSHA focused elsewhere.

The indoor heat illness standard was finally adopted on June 20, meaning employers should now look toward compliance as the summer heats up.

Requirements

The regulations apply to virtually all indoor work areas when the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit indoors. Notably, state prisons have been exempted from the indoor heat illness prevention rules due to concerns about the cost implications for the state.

The indoor heat rule includes an exemption for storage sheds and other outdoor areas used to store things — but if the storage space reaches 95 degrees or higher and an employee even briefly steps into that space, the indoor heat illness requirements are triggered.

Much like the outdoor heat illness prevention rules, the indoor heat standard requires employers to, among other requirements, provide cool drinking water, create an area where an employee can cool down, and give employees cooldown breaks.

In addition, the rules require that someone monitor employees while they are taking a cooldown break.

Employers need to provide training on the indoor heat rules, keep temperature records and frequently record an indoor space’s heat index, which measures factors other than temperature, such as humidity.

Another new variable is the impact of “restrictive clothing” on the temperature threshold at which the indoor heat standard is triggered. The regulation’s trigger temperature is lower when the employee is required to wear heavier safety equipment to account for the weight of the required clothing and how it retains heat.

Recognizing space limitations for small businesses that rent rather than own the buildings where they operate, the CalChamber worked hard to make sure the new standard includes an option to create a cooldown space outside.

Timing

Based on Cal/OSHA Standards Board staff comments, the new rule could be in place as early as August 1, if the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) expedites its review.

For the text of the adopted rule, click here. The regulatory history of the indoor heat rule is available on the Cal/OSHA Standards Board webpage.

For further insights on the substance of the rules, listen to The Workplace podcast aired in May. Also, watch the CalChamber Store for the recording of yesterday’s webinar on the new workplace heat illness standards.

Staff Contact: Robert Moutrie

Robert Moutrie

This post was originally published on this site

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