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California's obligations to avoid injuries from heat exposure

The weather may seem like it is cooling down in California but for those working outdoors, the weather continues to pose a health risk. When workers, such as those in construction jobs, spend an elongated time outdoors and exposed to the sun, they run the risk of contracting sun stroke or other dangerous conditions. Recognizing the risk, California lawmakers have placed obligations on employers, forcing them to take steps to reduce the risk and avoid occupational illness.

As per state law, employers must implement a heat stroke and stress prevention program. This program includes provision of water that should be pure, portable, suitably cool and provided free of charge. In addition to this, it should be provided sufficiently close to the area where employees are working. Employers working in the sun should also be provided hourly breaks in the shade-5-minute cool-down breaks in the shade every hour. In addition to this, employees will be permitted to take a break whenever they feel like they are overheating and during this break; they will be monitored and asked about symptoms.

The law defines heat illness as a serious medical condition that is the result of the body's inability to cope with the heat, and includes symptoms such as heat exhaustion, cramps and heat stroke. Employers are also under an obligation to provide emergency response procedures, stressing on responding to signs and symptoms of possible heat Illness and monitoring those who exhibit it.

An employer has an obligation to provide a safe working environment for their employees to avoid workplace injuries and accidents. This includes injuries that could arise from exposure to the heat. When an employer fails to comply with these laws and an employee is injured, they may be able to file a workers' compensation claim.

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