Heat Illness Prevention Standard: The Cal/OSHA
Heat Illness Prevention Standard became effective on July 27,
2006 — the first standard in the nation to deal with the deadly effects of heat illness. Heat-related fatalities in
2005 provided the impetus for development of the standard.
Enforcement – Cal/OSHA is in the fourth year of enforcing the standard and is seeing that employers are coming
into compliance. In 2007, approximately half of heat illness inspections resulted in one or more citations. In 2008,
the percentage of inspections dropped to 37 percent, indicating the effect of training, consultation, and enforcement
In early 2009, Cal/OSHA shut down eight employers over a two-week period because they failed to provide the
most basic protection to their employees from heat far in excess of 90 degrees.
Training and outreach – A major focus of Cal/OSHA has been training and outreach on the standard to influence
behavior with best practices information.
Cal/OSHA Consultation has introduced a new approach to heat illness
training by bringing the construction industry and the agriculture industry together for training.
Emphasis on employee awareness of the standard has also been invaluable. Mandatory training is required
for employees and supervisors, which includes information on the symptoms of heat illness and emergency
Permit requirements: The California Legislature has enacted a number of
licensing, registration, certification, and notification requirements that alert Cal/OSHA to the location of high-hazard operations and serve as a
tool for inspection targeting.
Cranes: Cal/OSHA ensures safe erecting, operating, and dismantling of tower cranes by informing employers
of requirements and best practices, enforcing permit and notification requirements, and conducting periodic
inspections. Crane certifiers are also licensed by Cal/OSHA.
Construction: Cal/OSHA requires employers to obtain a permit before digging trenches or excavations five feet or
deeper and before constructing or demolishing structures more than three stories high.
Mines and tunnels: Blasters, safety representatives, and gas testers must be certified for mining and tunneling
operations. A special Cal/OSHA unit inspects mines and tunnels.
Carcinogens: Employers are required to file a "Report of Use" for carcinogens and incidents that expose workers
to such substances. Contractors and employers who do asbestos-related work must be registered.
Workforce: Trends in the demographics of the California workforce and the changing nature of work create
special safety and health challenges that highlight the need for multi-lingual approaches. Recent
have been translated into multiple languages and Cal/OSHA has significantly increased the number of in-house
employees who are certified bilingual. Cal/OSHA strives to increase awareness of workers' rights through bilingual
education and public relations that target advocacy groups, employers, and workers.
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA): MRSA is a bacterium that is tougher to treat than most
strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it is resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. MRSA
was once largely confined to hospital settings but is becoming more widespread — particularly in crowded
settings such as prisons and health clubs. Cal/OSHA has received 27 accident reports or complaints about MRSA
since November 2007. Most cases are from correctional facilities. Cal/OSHA is addressing MRSA under its
Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard and through a "Special Order" which gives instructions on controlling
and preventing MRSA infections. Cal/OSHA is coordinating all of its enforcement efforts with the Division's
Scaled Composites, LLC: On Jan. 17, 2008, Cal/OSHA issued citations to Scaled Composites, LLC for a catastrophic
explosion that killed three employees and injured four others. The explosion occurred during an oxidizer tank
flow test in which nitrous oxide flowed through a valve on the end of a tank being developed for a rocket motor.
The test was designed to be "cold flow" and no fuel was to be present. However, during the test the nitrous oxide
ignited and exploded. Citations totaled $25,870 for failing to provide procedures for correcting unsafe conditions,
failing to train employees, and other violations.
Wildfires: Maximizing Cal/OSHA's impact with limited resources was another major accomplishment during
federal fiscal year 2008. After the Southern California wild fires,
Cal/OSHA consultants worked closely with
several contractors during the post fire clean up.
Cal/OSHA Enforcement also distributed information and offered
guidance to utility workers, contractors, and homeowners.
Atkinson Construction: On Feb. 25, 2006, a portion of an unprotected excavation collapsed, burying the victim.
The investigation revealed that the engineered shoring plan prohibited employees from working inside the
trench boxes until all shoring was in place. The superintendent was aware of the requirement but did not follow
it. Cal/OSHA's investigation resulted in two willful and two serious citations totaling $164,750. On Aug. 27, 2007,
a civil complaint and final judgment was filed against Atkinson Construction. Atkinson Construction agreed to
pay $1,100,000 to the DA's office and $100,000 to the California District Attorneys Association for worker safety
education. Additionally, the DA's investigators can access Atkinson Construction worksites until 2011. On July 14,
2008, a felony criminal complaint was filed against the general superintendent and the site foreman. Each was
sentenced to three years probation, 200 hours of community service, and a fine of $15,000.
Pouk & Steinle Inc.: On Dec. 6, 2006, a journeyman lineman was working at night guiding a 75-foot-long wooden
power pole that was attached to an overhead crane. The lineman and crane operator were attempting to spin the
new pole 180 degrees, which forced it into an adjacent public roadway. A vehicle struck the end of the pole, which
killed the driver and his passenger. The lineman, who was also struck by the pole, died at the hospital.
Cal/OSHA's investigation resulted in four serious citations totaling $49,385.
Stanley & Sons: A truck operator employed by Stanley & Sons ran over a Lucky Star Marketing quality control
employee who was backing up a bobtail truck in an agricultural field. Cal/OSHA's investigation resulted in two
citations — one serious and one other-than-serious — totaling $10,975. On Jan. 9, 2007, a felony complaint was
filed; the defendant was placed on 36 months probation and ordered to serve 150 days in jail for driving a vehicle
without a license and a working back-up alarm.
Cal/OSHA Consultation received an OSCAR (OSHA's Consultation Achievement Recognition) in 2007 for an
emphasis program in residential construction, which reduced reportable injuries by 21 percent. Consultations
increased on-site assistance and emphasized multi-employer responsibilities and safety awareness.
Agriculture: As a heat wave scorched rural areas in California, Cal/OSHA entered into a first-time, statewide
partnership with California's agricultural community to quickly deliver critical heat illness prevention training to
the employees of the more than 1,400 licensed farm labor contractors (FLCs). This unprecedented partnership
had one goal: reduce deaths and illnesses by raising awareness of the deadly toll that heat can take on workers.
Partnerships with the Central Valley Catholic diocese, the Department of Education's Migrant Education Program,
and California Rural Legal Assistance assisted in reaching workers and their families. And Cal/OSHA continued the
positive working relationships that had been developed with agriculture and rural advocacy groups. The United
Farm Workers foundation and California Rural Assistance (CRLA) forwarded complaints and requests for on-site
assistance to Cal/OSHA.
Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition (EEEC): The
EEEC is a partnership of enforcement agencies
formed to root out the underground economy by enforcing California labor laws and educating business owners
and workers about those laws. California has continued aggressive enforcement with the cooperation of the U.S.
Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; the Contractor's State License Board; the Employment Development
Department; the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement; and Cal/OSHA. A multi-agency inspection
protocol and cross-training between agencies creates a more effective enforcement team than previous efforts.
The following scenario is an example of illegal underground business operations encountered by EEEC teams in
their year-round sweeps of traditionally low-wage industries such as restaurants, auto body repair, and wood
An employer sets up a wooden pallet repair operation in a vacant lot. He has no permits or licenses and no utility
connections, instead using an unsafe 220-volt gasoline generator that sits in the mud. Employees work 54 hours
per week and are paid 50 cents in cash for each pallet they repair. Each employee uses an electric skill saw with its
protective blade removed. There are no toilet facilities or clean drinking water available. One worker is missing a
finger, which he says he lost on an unguarded power saw at a former pallet repair facility, where the owner gave
him $200 and told him to go to the emergency room and say that he accidentally cut his finger off at home. When
he returned to work, the owner told him he had been replaced.