Cal/OSHA has published its proposed indoor heat illness prevention standard, which means the California Standards Board has one year to take action.
Following publication of the proposed indoor heat illness prevention standard, there is a 45-day comment period that ends May 18, 2023, with a Standards Board meeting.
California already has a heat illness prevention standard for outdoor workers, with rulemaking for the indoor standard having begun in 2016.
A draft version of the standard was published April 22, 2019, but the rulemaking process was slowed down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
Standard has threshold of 82 degrees, requires cool-down areas
Noteworthy requirements of the proposed standard are that it:
- applies to all indoor work areas where the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees when employees are present
- allows compliance to be part of an employer’s Injury Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), although employers can choose to have a stand-alone written heat illness prevention program
- requires that employees have access to fresh, pure, suitably cool and free water as close as practicable to working areas and in cool down areas
- requires employers to establish and maintain one or more cool-down areas at all times
- requires employers to encourage preventive cool-down breaks when employees feel the need
- requires employers to use control measures to minimize the risk of heat illness
- requires employers to have effective emergency response procedures
- requires employers to closely monitor newly assigned employees and employees working during a heat wave, and
- requires employees to be trained on indoor heat illness prevention.
The proposed standard demands enhanced requirements for indoor work areas where:
- the temperature or heat index equals or exceeds 87 degrees Fahrenheit when employees are present
- employees wear clothes that restrict heat removal and temperatures equal or exceed 82 degrees, or
- employees work in a high radiant heat area and the temperature equals or exceeds 82 degrees.
Could possibly see adoption in summer or fall 2023
The soonest the Standards Board could adopt the standard is likely in the summer or fall of 2023, although it’s likely to take longer than that, Seyfarth Shaw states.
While this formal standard may be months away, California employers should keep in mind that Cal/OSHA “can and does enforce indoor heat hazards under the IIPP standard, under which employers must evaluate site-specific hazards at their workplace.”