June 27, 2024

Indoor Heat Standard Adopted by California Standards Board

A new regulation approved last week by California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, the standards-setting agency within Cal/OSHA, is intended to protect indoor workers from heat illness. The standard will apply to most indoor workplaces, including restaurants, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. Local and state correctional facilities are places of employment exempt from the standard. Also exempt are emergency operations that are “directly involved in the protection of life or property.” The state’s Office of Administrative Law is set to review the regulation within 30 working days. If approved, the board requested that the new regulation take effect immediately.

The requirements of the standard will be effective for indoor workplaces when the indoor temperature reaches or exceeds 87 F when employees are present. The regulation also addresses conditions under which employees in indoor workplaces face higher risk of heat illness. For example, if workers are wearing clothing that restricts heat removal or employees are working in areas with high radiant heat, the requirements of the standard will apply when the temperature reaches 82 F.

Under the new standard, employers will also be required to provide workers with access to cool-down areas that are kept below 82 F with physical barriers to shield workers from sources of radiant heat. Additional requirements cover assessment and control measures, emergency response procedures, acclimatization, and training for both employees and supervisors. Employers will also be required to establish, implement, and maintain effective written heat illness prevention plans.

Employers that have both indoor and outdoor workplaces may be covered under both the new regulation and California’s regulations that apply to outdoor workplaces. A chart from Cal/OSHA compares the state’s indoor and outdoor heat illness prevention standards.

The text of the regulation is available as a PDF from the website of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Learn more from the department’s news release and the DIR webpage on indoor heat illness prevention.