California plans to regulate indoor heat this year. The rules will apply to workplaces where temperatures exceed 82-87°F, affecting non-air-conditioned areas like buildings, sheds, and kitchens. Employers can prepare by adopting best practices for heat illness prevention and staying informed on regulatory changes. Being proactive ensures compliance and protects worker health when the new laws take effect.

Storage sheds are generally exempt from temperature regulations. However, if the temperature exceeds 95 degrees and an employee enters the space, even briefly, compliance is required.

The new regulations are expected to pass this month and will be reviewed by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL). While the review typically takes weeks, an expedited process has been requested, potentially putting the regulations in effect as early as July.

Steps for Employers:

1. Consult industry experts to understand implications and get advice on implementing temperature recording, engineering controls, and cooldown areas.

2. Evaluate workspaces, and consider creative solutions like outdoor cooldown zones for businesses with limited space.

3. Provide employee training on heat illness prevention and proper cooldown break procedures.

4. Acquire tools to accurately measure the heat index, not just standard thermometers.

Key Requirements for Employers:

1. Provide cool drinking water: Employees should have access to at least 1 quart (32 oz) of water per hour, or 8 quarts (2 gallons) per person per day.

2. Offer cooldown areas: Provide a designated area, indoor or outdoor, where employees can cool down. Indoor areas must be maintained below 82°F.

3. Implement cooldown breaks: When temperatures reach 95°F or above, ensure employees take minimum 10-minute breaks every two hours. Also allow voluntary 5-minute breaks.

4. Provide training and record-keeping: Offer heat illness prevention training and maintain records of temperature and heat index readings.

5. Monitor heat index: Use specialized tools to measure temperature and humidity levels accurately.

6. Consider restrictive clothing: Lower temperature thresholds to 82°F for workplaces with heavy or restrictive safety gear.

Best Practices for Heat Illness Preparedness:

1. Pre-shift Meetings: Educate workers on heat stress signs, hydration, and breaks.

2. Buddy System: Workers monitor each other for early heat illness symptoms.

3. Heat Stress Monitors: Provide real-time data to inform work-rest cycles and hydration.

4. Emergency Response Plans: Ensure first aid and medical care access for heat-related emergencies.

Heat indexes have reached record highs, posing risks to workers, especially in agriculture. However, the agriculture industry’s enhanced practices and greater emphasis on heat illness preparedness have led to a decline in incidents. This decline demonstrates the effectiveness of proactive measures and the importance of ongoing worker and supervisor education and training.

California’s upcoming indoor heat regulations require growers to be proactive. Understanding the requirements and adopting heat illness prevention best practices will safeguard employee health and avoid non-compliance fines. As the regulations are finalized, employers should consult experts, evaluate workspaces, implement training, and acquire heat index monitoring tools. Preparing now will ensure a smooth transition to compliance, maintaining productivity and safety. Staying vigilant and proactive will protect the workforce and uphold industry standards.

If you should have specific questions regarding heat illness prevention, please contact the AgSafe team at 209-526-4400 or email safeinfo@agsafe.org.


Written and edited by Athena Ushana, Program and Communications Manager

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