Hoping to avoid last year?s wave of heat-related deaths, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has approved the nation?s first permanent heat stress safety regulations, following an emergency provision put in place last September.

After more than a dozen workers died in 2005 from heat-related stress, DOSH enacted emergency measures.

Though most of the deaths involved the agriculture or construction industries, ?there are many industries where workers are outside [and] this would apply. Lifeguarding is a good example of that,? says Dean Fryer, spokesperson for Cal/OSHA.

The addition to the California Labor Code applies to all outdoor work areas, such as waterparks and leisure pools. It includes three main stipulations:

  • Training.Employees and supervisors must be trained on the warning signs and risk factors of heat illness. Facilities also must demonstrate procedures for responding to the onset of heat illness and for contacting emergency medical services.
  • Water provisions. Employers must provide one quart of water per employee per hour for the entire shift.
  • Access to shade.Companies are required to furnish sufficient shade areas at each work site for employees displaying heat illness symptoms. Canopies, umbrellas and other temporary shade structures are suitable. However, a car sitting in the sun is not acceptable unless it?s air-conditioned. And an employee experiencing signs of heat illness must be allowed no less than a five-minute rest period in the shade.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the body requires at least five to seven days of adjustment to heat. For heavy work, Cal/OSHA recommends companies allow new hires or workers coming off extended leave a period of four to 10 days of progressively increasing work increments, starting with about two hours of labor per day.