Indoor heat illness regs proposed

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 20, 2007

Since 2005 the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger have engaged in a complicated discussion about heat illness.  That year AB 805 (Chu) caused grave concerns amongst the employer community because it attempted to impose heat illness regulations that were the same for all indoor and outdoor industries.  After much debate, the bill became a vehicle to pressure the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to develop regulations.  It was determined at that point that it was necessary to deal with outdoor and indoor heat illness separately.  Hence, in July 2006 the Board established outdoor regulations that implemented standards for breaks, shade and prevention training.

Now we are involved in the same debate from two years ago. Should the legislature impose indoor heat illness regulations that cut across the board, or allow for Illness and Injury Prevention Programs (IIPP) in each business to adopt indoor heat illness procedures that are unique to each worksite?  Assemblywoman Laura Richardson and Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) have introduced legislation this year that directs the Standards Board to develop and implement regulations for Indoor Heat Illness by July 1, 2008.

AB 1045 (Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach) was heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. The bill includes minimum standards which state that each employer must establish, implement, and maintain written procedures to recognize the symptoms, assure medical treatment, and prevent the occurrence of heat illness.  It could require employers to schedule breaks in cool areas to prevent employees from heat exhaustion. SB 570 (Steinberg) is nearly identical to AB 1045.

CMTA has attended meetings with the Standards Board regarding indoor heat illness and the need for regulations. During the last meeting in March the employer community said that the IIPP was sufficient and it allowed flexibility for employers to adopt prevention programs related to the hazards most prevalent in each worksite.  Employer opposition to uniform regulations drove the labor community to move this legislation to pressure the Standards Board.  It is crucial that companies already implementing heat illness prevention programs to speak out against AB 1045 and SB 570.  A "one-size fits all" regulation on indoor heat illness would negatively impact all companies.

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