Emergency Response Procedure
Cal/OSHA defines a “heat wave” as any day in which the predicted high temperature will be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 10 degrees higher than the average high daily temperature in the prior 5 days. Ensure that employees can contact a supervisor or emergency medical service when necessary. Any workers who display or report any signs or symptoms of heat illness must not be sent home or left alone without being offered on-site first aid or emergency medical services. It is not required to provide medical personnel on-site and supervisors are not expected to have medical expertise.
Maintain clean and cool drinking water at no cost to the employee; at least one quart per employee per hour for the duration of each shift. Water containers cannot be refilled from non-potable water sources. Keep water containers readily accessible to employees and encourage frequent drinking of water.
Access to shade is required when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit and must comfortably accommodate the number of employees on recovery or rest periods and those taking onsite meal breaks. Locate the shade as close as practical to the area where employees are working.
Rest and Recovery Period
A “recovery period” is defined as a paid “cool down period afforded to an employee to prevent heat illness.” An employee who takes a preventative rest period must be monitored and asked if they are experiencing heat illness symptoms, must be encouraged to stay in the shade, and must not be asked to leave their recovery period and resume work until any heat illness signs have subsided. Employees must not be ordered to work within 5 minutes in addition to the time needed to access the shade.
Failure to provide a rest and recovery period mirrors California’s rest and meal breaks laws; the employee is owed a one-hour premium penalty for each day the recovery period is not provided.
Acclimatization is a process when the body adjusts to increased heat exposure. It’s widely accepted that people usually acclimate within 4 to 14 days of regular work involving at least two hours per day in the heat. All employees must be closely observed by a supervisor during a heat wave and supervisors must keep close watch of new employees during the employee’s first 14 days of employment.
Resource: California Chamber of Commerce (2017) HR Quick Guide for California Employers. Sacramento, CA: California Chamber of Commerce.
By Katie Buxton, Payroll Manager at Premier Talent Partners