Beginning May 1 new rules dictating the working conditions in agriculture, construction, landscaping and other outdoor professions will take effect.
Amy Martin is Chief Counsel of Cal-OSHA. She says the rules require that shade be made available when the temperature reaches 80 degrees, which is five degrees cooler than the previous requirement.
"You can get heat illness as low as 70 degrees, depending on the conditions that you’re working under," she says. "But around 80 degrees is the point when you see a dramatic uptick in the incident rate of illness."
Martin says the new rules also clarify that workers must be provided with free water.
"We had a number of cases over the years where we would come to the site and employees would tell us, I have water, but the employer required me to bring the water," she says. "And then we had some more disturbing cases where employers had water available and actually charged the employees for the water that they were drinking."
Martin says the changes are meant to prevent heat illness by allowing workers to hydrate, rest and have better access to emergency services. Supervisors and employees must also be trained to recognize and react to heat illness.