State approves new heat protections for workers

The new rules exclude prisons.

The California Workplace Safety Board has approved new standards to protect indoor workers from heat-related illnesses and injuries, impacting approximately 1.4 million workers and 196,000 establishments in the state. 

These regulations aim to prevent or reduce heat stress-related issues for various indoor workers, including those in warehouses, schools, and kitchens.

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The big picture: The rules require employers to implement measures to reduce the risk of heat illness when temperatures reach certain thresholds. Workers in environments above 87 degrees Fahrenheit – or 82 degrees when workers wear restrictive attire – would have rights to water, breaks, cooling-off areas and monitoring for signs of heat illness to ensure their safety.

  • California becomes one of the few states, alongside Oregon and Minnesota, to establish specific protections for indoor workers against heat stress, with the absence of federal heat standards for workers in the U.S.
  • The regulations exclude employees exposed to temperatures between 82 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit for less than 15 minutes per hour. 
  • This move follows the adoption of heat protection rules for outdoor work in sectors like agriculture and construction back in 2006.

What we’re watching: The new rules face a final approval from the Office of Administrative Law to take effect. 

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