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Cal/OSHA takes aim at indoor heat-related workplace injuries

For several years, the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has required employers to take measures to reduce heat-related illnesses of their employees. A similar requirement appears to be in the works for indoor heat-related workplace injuries, much to the chagrin of many employers. Even the timing of a new regulation is causing disagreements.

Cal/OSHA believes that they are to have a new regulation in place and effective by Jan. 2019. Employers say that the regulation must be in draft form only by that time. The new rule would affect work environments in which the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees. That limit drops to 80 degrees in environments where workers perform moderate to very heavy work.

A plan would need to be put into place to prevent heat-related illnesses indoors as employers are already required to do outdoors. Employers should make use of administrative or engineering measures to reduce heat, if possible. When measures cannot be taken to reduce the heat, additional actions might be required above and beyond those specified in outdoor heat plans. Employers do not necessarily oppose the plan, but they do oppose the rule as it is currently proposed.

Employees who work indoors and suffer heat-related workplace injuries deserve the protections proposed by Cal/OSHA. Until the regulation becomes a reality, however, they could continue to suffer in greater numbers. Fortunately, their lost wages, medical expenses and other losses are likely covered by California's workers' compensation system. Of course, affected employees would more than likely prefer not to suffer at all.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Cal/OSHA's indoor heat illness rule getting cool reception", March 27, 2017

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