Background: Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illness and injuries. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of contact with hot surfaces.
Law on Heat Stress: In the state of California, regulations require employers to take affirmative steps for controlling Heat Stress. Generally, for an automobile dealership, high risk of heat stress exists in locations as follows:
- Sales Staff: When a sales employee walks through the lot with a potential customer, the walk-through the lot would be considered outdoors and hence the standard would apply.
- Parts Truck Drivers: A parts truck driver works outside the dealership driving around town. The place of work is considered outdoors.
- Shop Areas: Shops with marginal ventilation, metal roofs and/or hot engines idling may increase the ambient temperatures and heat stress can become an issue.
Employees Working Indoors: Training on Heat Stress for employees working indoors is being worked out by the regulators in Sacramento.
Other States: In other states where a specific heat illness standard may not exist, the employer’s responsibility for addressing heat related illness’ does not cease. The general duty clause of OSHA requires that an employer provide a safe workplace and abate hazardous conditions. Training employees on Heat Stress should be completed.
Provide Water: One salient requirement of the California Code is that the employer provide one quart of water per hour per employee during the work shift. For parts truck drivers, provide a water cooler with ice at the start of the shift. Last but not least, water fountains or coolers should be readily available at the job site.