The month of May is almost behind us and the weather has been rather friendly. At the time of composing this article the current morning temperature, according to the National Weather Service, is approximately 55°F, possibly peaking at 75°F for the day. These mild temperatures will soon come to an end as we look further into the forecast. The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures to reach above 95°F by Memorial Day.
For the first time this year the Central Valley is expected to experience temperatures at or above 95°F. Those involved in agriculture understand that these abrupt temperature hikes can impact business practices, investments, and the health of employees. To secure employees’ health, Cal Ag Safety wants to remind you of Cal-OSHA’s heat illness prevention requirements, and more specifically highlight the high heat procedures requirements for outdoor agricultural employees. Agricultural employers are expected to comply with the following heat illness prevention requirements when temperatures reach at least 80°F:
Acclimatization: implement procedures to allow employees sufficient time to adjust to the workplace conditions, modify the work schedule, and assignments.
Training: all employees and supervisors must be trained to recognize personal and environmental factors that can contribute to heat illnesses as well as how to identify heat illness signs and symptoms prevent heat-related illnesses from occurring, and how to respond to an emergency.
Water: encourage employees to drink water frequently. Employers are required to provide 1 quart of fresh portable drinking water per employee for every work hour, and the water must be readily available. Container for carrying water must be clean, and refill procedures outlined for employees to follow.
Shade: a safe area with protective covering from the sunrays must be provided. Shade can be artificial (easy up) or natural (trees). The shade must be accessible, hazard-free and away from portable restrooms.
Rest: rest periods to cool down must be permitted for employees to prevent heat related illness.
Written Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP): a written plan that describes measures to prevent and respond to heat illness emergencies must be developed, including first aid.
These guidelines are a review of the regulation and accommodate regulation requirements for temperatures under 95°F. Additional heat illness prevention measures must be implemented for high heat waves. High heat procedures must be followed when the temperature reaches 95°F or above. High heat procedures include:
- Constant effective communication with employees
- Observe employees for alertness
- Incorporate one or more of the following procedures:
- Supervisor or designee oversee 20 or fewer employees
- Buddy System
- Regular communication (radio or cellular phone)
- Other effective means of communication
- Give more frequent reminders to drink water
- Hold pre-shift meetings on prevention
- Ensure employees take a minimum 10 minute preventative cool down rest period for every 2 hours worked when the workplace conditions reach and exceed 95°F. This cool down rest break can run concurrent with company-implemented breaks.
Please, refer to your Cal Ag Safety consultant for assistance with your Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP): Ann Curtoni-Lial (209) 351-0321; or Raul Murguia (209) 351-0609.