Heat waves pose hazards to employees working outside. As noted on the Department of Industrial Relations website, California’s Labor Code requires employers to reduce their employees’ risks of on-the-job injuries.
Agriculture, landscaping and construction companies must comply with the Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez standard. Companies involved in transportation and oil and gas extraction must also protect their employees from harmful heat illnesses.
Heat-related illnesses can develop while working in high-temperature environments. The Golden State’s laws require employers to provide outdoor workers with shade areas when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Employees may also take rest breaks when needed and sit in the shade to cool down.
When the temperature reaches 95 degrees, employees must have access to both water and electronic devices for emergency communication. Workers may drink as much water as needed to cool down and avoid overheating. Employees must also take at least one 10-minute rest break for every two hours of work performed in excessive heat.
Employers must provide workers with training to stay safe while working in extreme weather conditions. The CDC.gov website lists the symptoms of common temperature-related illnesses such as heat stroke, the most severe medical condition. Symptoms include reaching a 106-degree body temperature in 10 minutes, confusion or seizures. If untreated, a permanent disability could result.
A severe loss of water and salt through sweating could lead to heat exhaustion. Symptoms include high body temperatures, extreme thirst and headaches. Muscle pain or cramps and abnormally dark urine may reveal rhabdomyolysis, a condition brought on by physical exertion and heat stress.
California labor laws require employers to take steps to help workers avoid on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Employees with symptoms related to heat illnesses may apply for workers’ compensation benefits.