The Los Angeles Basin and surrounding areas have a reputation for setting record-breaking temperatures, with nearby Death Valley setting a world record back in 1913 when temperatures reached 134. The basin itself is no stranger to 100+-degree temperatures.
While typically accustomed to the extreme heat, many L.A. workers can still fall victim to heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses occur when the body can no longer maintain a normal temperature. Not only are such illnesses considered emergencies but also, they can be life-threatening. To prevent worst-case scenarios, the California Department of Industrial Relations requires employers to take four heat prevention measures.
Training, water and shade
Per the CA DIR, the first three steps California employers must take to prevent heat-related illnesses from befalling their workers are to provide training, water and shade. Employers must train all supervisors and employees on heat illness prevention. They must provide enough fresh water for each employee to drink at least four eight-ounce glasses per hour. Not only must they provide the water but also, they must encourage employees to drink it.
Finally, employers must provide a shady location in which employees can rest and cool down. Supervisors and employers must encourage workers to take five-minute breaks every hour. Most importantly, employers should emphasize that workers should not wait until they develop symptoms of a heat illness to take a break.
Heat illness prevention planning
The fourth and final heat illness prevention measure California employers must take is to create, enact and enforce a written plan that complies with the Heat Illness Prevention Standards as outlined by Cal/OSHA. The DIR explains the four elements that a heat prevention plan must contain:
- Procedures designed to ensure all workers have access to water and shade
- Procedures for what to do on days of “high heat”
- Acclimatization methods and procedures that comply with labor laws
- Emergency response procedures that comply with state codes
High heat working conditions can pose a threat to workers’ health, safety and lives. When a worker suffers a heat-related illness because of an employer’s negligence or lack of planning, he or she should contact a lawyer to learn more about his or her legal rights and options.