New heat illness prevention regulations go into effect Friday

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Valley temperatures warm up employers should know new 'heat illness prevention regulations' go into effect Friday.

New Cal/OSHA regulations are aimed at protecting anyone who works outdoors whether it's on a farm, on a roof, or on roads and highways.

Access to cool water has always been required. But shade structures must now be put up on days temperatures hit 80 degrees. 85 degrees was the old standard.

Ryan Jacobsen with the Farm Bureau said, "One of the newer changes includes a ten minute break every two hours when it is above 95 degrees. Now that is inclusive of whether it is meal or break periods."

Cal/OSHA has also altered requirements for how much shade must be made available. Employers formerly needed enough for 25% of the workforce. Now you may need enough shade for the entire crew if they all take a break at the same time. Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League calls the change impossible and costly.

"There's only so much space right," said Cunha. "Well now you're going to have all these shade tents or trailers you don't have room to bring in the truck to pick up the product even and the workers don't have any room to park their cars but on the road."

Cunha says the old 25% requirement worked fine and workers avoided heat illness issues.

"What they're asking is impossible to do," said Cunha. "We have to figure it out. If we don't they can shut down a construction site or they could shut down a farmer."

And employees taking precautionary breaks to cool down must be monitored for signs of heat illness.

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