This past week, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health urged employers in Riverside and other areas in the Inland Empire to protect employees against the sweltering heat. Expected triple-digit temperatures led to the High Heat Advisory and the potential for temporary disability of workers. Workers who are exposed to temperatures that rise above 100 degrees are at significant risks of suffering heatstroke. Recognizing the risks is crucial because heat exhaustion that is not treated promptly could quickly become life-threatening.
Employers can keep workers safe by compliance with the Cals OSHA guidelines for heat illness prevention. The standards require the availability of plenty of fluids and air-conditioned rooms. Workers must be encouraged to take frequent drinks of fresh, cool water, and not wait until they feel thirsty. Dehydration will make them more vulnerable.
Safety authorities say workers who have to be outdoors must have access to cool, shaded areas and allowed to take frequent breaks to cool down and take in liquids. Outdoor workers must also have access to phones or other communication methods to call for help in emergencies. Cal/OSHA says employers who fail to comply, putting workers at risk, may face stiff fines.
California workers who were not protected from excessive heat expose during this heat wave might have landed up in a hospital. Along with facing lost wages due to temporary disability, they might have concerns about the mounting medical bills. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation system typically covers those losses, and an attorney with experience in this field of the law can help with the navigation of benefits claims.