Does Your Dairy Meet OSHA Heat Stress Requirements?
Summertime came in like a lion and most of the country will experience extreme heat this week. It’s common to worry about cows dropping in milk from the heat, but have you given keeping your workers cool a second thought?
The following are Cal/OSHA rules for helping employees avoid heat stress when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees F:
- Shade provided at all times when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees F, as close to where employees are working;
- Shade must be provided to all employees on a rest or meal break, except those who choose to take a meal break elsewhere;
- Fresh, pure, and suitably cool water available in sufficient quantities (replenishment is permissible) to allow each employee to drink one quart per hour;
- Water is to be provided as close as practicable to location of work;
- Employees must be trained about heat illness and the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention (HIP) Standard before they work in conditions where they might be exposed to heat;
- Supervisors must be additionally trained in HIP compliance procedures, emergency responses, and ensuring effective communication to facilitate emergency response.
- A written copy of your HIP program in English and the language understood by the majority of the employees and be available to employees and Cal/OSHA inspectors on request -- this is the most frequently-cited part of the HIP standard -- and probably the most easily-avoided HIP citation!
- Remember: When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, employers must implement "high heat" procedures, including a mandatory 10 minute break every two hours (meal and rest periods can serve as these breaks, but if employees work beyond eight hours or waive meal or rest periods, you must still ensure the mandatory rest break occurs.