In California, many industries, including agriculture, construction, and others with non-air-conditioned environments, rely on workers to work in the heat. Workers employed in these jobs may have fewer options to escape the heat and are at higher risk of heat illness.
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can increase the risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. These heat-related illnesses can be dangerous or life-threatening.
You have the right to be protected from heat hazards at work, including education on how to stay safe and the ability to take preventative measures to avoid heat illness.
For questions about heat illness prevention, call Cal/OSHA on weekdays at 833-579-0927 to connect with a live Cal/OSHA representative between the hours of 9 am and 7 pm.
Follow these tips to help protect yourself from heat illness:
Know the Signs!
Your employer should provide training on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, which include headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Know What to Do in an Emergency.
If you or someone starts to experience heat illness symptoms, follow these steps to cool down:
- Move to a cool place
- Loosen your clothes
- Sip water
- Use cold cloths or a cool bath to lower your body temperature
- Call 911 if suffering from heat stroke
Heat Safety Tips at Work
For outdoor workers, you are protected from heat illness in several key ways:
- Water – employers must provide and encourage workers to drink at least one quart (32 ounces) of cool, fresh, free drinking water per hour. Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Shade – Request access to shade whenever needed to cool off. Take additional breaks in the shade to prevent overheating.
- Rest – employers must allow – and encourage – cool-down rest breaks in the shade whenever needed to prevent heat illness, in addition to regular breaks.
- Training/Planning – workers and supervisors must be trained on the signs and symptoms of heat illness and know what to do in case of an emergency.
For indoor workers, specific requirements for heat illness prevention are being developed in California.
- However, you have the right to a safe and healthy workplace and that includes from heat-related hazards. Your employer is required to take steps to correct heat hazards and ensure any air conditioning systems remain operational during work hours.