Heat hacks: Tips for employers and workers to stay safe when working under the sun

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If you think it's hot now, brace yourselves. It's only going to get hotter.

SoCal is expected to have a 15 to 25 degree increase these next few days and The National Weather Service says Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties are going to feel excessively dry heat the most.


While some people can stay cool by being indoors, others have no choice but to face the heat working outdoors. 

"When workers are working outside in the heat, particularly if they're doing strenuous work, they really need to be mindful of watching out for their own health,"  Amy Martin, Chief Counsel of Cal/OSHA says.

"Employers have go to make sure that they are providing water, shade, rest for employees and that they have thought about what they are going to do in an emergency."

If you're not sure how to stay cool working in the heat, here are some heat tips to consider as an employer or as an employee from KPCC and Cal/OSHA .

What you can do as an employer

Prevention is key, and the first thing employers need to do is "they need to make sure they are in compliance with the heat regulations that are enforced by Cal/OSHA," Martin says. Some ideas for prevention include the following:

  • Have access to water: Portable water must be made accessible to employees for free.
  • Have access to shade: When temperatures hit above 80 degrees, have one or more shade areas for employees; if under 80 degrees, provide timely access to shade areas when requested. 
  • Train employees on heat prevention.
  • Encourage employees to stay hydrated and cool down in the shade.
  • Make sure employees get their breaks — let employees know they can request a break if they feel like they need an additional one.
  • Make sure you know how you will get emergency services if an emergency occurs.

What you can do as an employee

Workers in the fields of agriculture, construction, petroleum, landscaping — "Anybody can be susceptible to heat illness when they're working in the sun," Martin says. Here is what you can do when working in hot temperatures:

  • Keep hydrated: Try to drink cool water, as extremely cold water can cause cramps.
  • Monitor yourself: Signs of dehydration include dizziness, fatigue, faintness and headaches.
  • Visit a cooling center: Find a center near you here.

"Employees should know if they are working for an employer that is out of compliance, they can ... call us and make a complaint," says Martin. "We will never reveal their name if they don't want to."

With contributions from Ashley Bailey

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