Sunday, August 14, 2005

CalOSHA Finalizes Heat Regulation. More Show Than Substance?

The CalOSHA standard board approved emergency regulations Friday requiring employers to train workers how to avoid heatstroke on hot days and provide breaks in the shade.

Meanwhile, my pleas for more comments last week paid off as I was (correctly) taken to task in the comments about California's new standard for reflecting the rosy news stories of the emergency regulation and neglecting the fact that the regulation is more political than real. I'll be writing more on this later, but here are the points that the commenters made:

  • Once a worker is feeling the symptoms it is medical attention NOT just a shady break that is needed.
  • Where does it say that a worker must NOT be worked during the 5 minute break i.e. taking the "break" in the shade while still doing some labor?
  • Why did the Governor allude to the fact that he needed a week to recover from heat illness when he was stricken but he only gives workers 5 minutes?
  • Why is the definition of "acclimatization" in the standard worse than that in the current OSHA Heat guidelines?
  • Where in the training is it required to tell workers that they won't be retaliated against for taking their 5 minute break?
  • This temporary emergency order only covers outdoors workers.
  • The standard will only be in effect for 120 days.

As I wrote before, there are efforts underway to pass legislation that would include indoor workers and make the CalOSHA standard permanent. In addition, Worksafe and other organizations are working on a permanent standard with significantly improved protections that take into account humidity and other factors.

More to follow.