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Proposed Cal/OSHA Standards: Indoor Heat Illness and Workplace Violence

By: Faith L. Driscoll

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued revised drafts of two proposed new standards.  The first standard regulates indoor heat illness prevention.  This standard would apply to workplaces when the indoor temperature reaches 82 degrees.  Additionally, it would apply in any of the following situations: when the outdoor temperature is at least 92 degrees, the heat index is at least 90 degrees, employees wear clothing that restricts heat removal, or employees work in high-radiant-heat areas. 

Employers will be required to measure and record the temperature or heat index, whichever is greater, and identify/evaluate all environmental risk factors for heat illness.  This evaluation will require active involvement of employees and union representatives, if any. Furthermore, employers must maintain one or more cool-down areas at all times, where employees are “allowed and encouraged” to take a rest when they feel the need.  A “cool-down area” is defined as an indoor or outdoor area that is shielded from sunlight and high-radiant-heat sources, that is either open to the air or ventilated or cooled. 

Employers will also be required to use control measures to minimize the risk of heat illness, including isolation of thermal processes, isolating employees from heat sources, using air conditioning, cooling fans, cooling mist fans, and natural ventilation if the outdoor temperature is lower than inside. Finally, the draft standards will require supervisors to closely observe workers when the work area is 10 degrees warmer than the average high daily temperature during the preceding five days.

The Division’s second draft standard is intended to protect employees in general industry from workplace violence.  Employers will be required to establish a workplace violence prevention plan which includes the following elements: 1) information regarding the persons responsible for implementation, 2) procedures for obtaining involvement from employees and union representatives in developing and implementing the plan, as well as evaluating workplace violence hazards, training, reporting and investigating, 3) training all employees, even at multi-employer worksites, 4) procedures for responding to reports and preventing retaliation, 5) procedures to respond to workplace violence emergencies, such as notifying employees and law enforcement, as well as evacuating, 6) procedures for correcting workplaces hazards, and 7) procedures for post-incident response and investigation.  Additionally, employers will be required to maintain a violent incident log about every incident, response and investigation.

To view these proposed standards in their entirety, please visit:

What This Means for Employers

Now is the time to begin evaluating the workplace to determine how these proposed standards will impact employees.  Preparing in advance is critical to ensure proper compliance with these detailed requirements.  As soon as these regulations are implemented, Cal/OSHA inspections will likely target agricultural employers, as well as construction, manufacturing and industrial kitchens and laundries.  Contact Barsamian & Moody for help in drafting compliant policies and procedures to prevent violations and expensive penalties.

Many employers grumble about new regulations affecting their operations.  Here is a   chance to become involved in the process. Employers have an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed language by emailing rs@dir.ca.gov before November 20, 2018.  The deadline for sending the indoor heat illness regulation to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board is January 1, 2019.  The Board will then formally propose and vote on its adoption.  The implementation of the workplace violence standard is further off.  Employers who wish to submit comments on that standard may do so by emailing kgraulich@dir.ca.gov prior to November 30, 2018.

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 The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should neither be interpreted as, nor construed as legal advice or opinion. The reader should consult with Barsamian & Moody at (559) 248-2360, for individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation.


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