A newly amended California labor code provision turns up the heat on employers in order to protect employees from the heat. Amendments allow private enforcement of laws regarding heat-illness prevention. Previously, they were imposed only by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with limited resources.
With the new provision, California employers must be even more fastidious about guarding their employees from the sun’s heat. To do so they must provide employees with cool down periods or they might end up facing litigation en masse. Any employer who has an outdoor space at their place of employment will find it vital to have a heat-illness prevention program set in motion so that employees are both allowed and encouraged to rest out of the heat for at least 5 minutes whenever they feel in danger of overheating.
Employers may feel put out by the rules. They are required to provide shade for employees who work in the sun (especially during sunny days). This can sometimes be difficult. Necessary cool-down periods any particular employee might need are unknown and cannot be scheduled ahead of time. So employers may find regulating employee behavior to ensure they are meeting the standards for heat-illness prevention difficult. It is recommended that California employers review the policies they have in place and that they offer renewed training for managers who will be responsible for compliance and the maintenance of their compliance records.