Heat Illness – Are You Sick Of It?


By Jennifer Jacobus, PHRca, SDEA Director of HR Services

We made it through COVID, RSV, and the regular old flu (fingers crossed). But with the hot weather comes other ailments that may keep your employees out of work, and California employers are expected to take preventative measures including training to reduce the risk of illnesses that can come from excessive heat and/or sun exposure.

Some of the most common conditions that can be caused by summer weather are heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn, and heat rashes. Preventative measures required by employers with staff who work outside or in high heat conditions include;

  • Water – Employers must provide at least one quart per hour of “fresh, pure, suitably cool, and free” water for each employee exposed to heat. That water needs to be as close as practicable to the worksite as possible.
  • Shade – Companies need to ensure that there is adequate shade to allow employees to cool off for at least five minutes anytime they feel that a “recovery period” is needed. Shaded areas need to be large enough to accommodate all the employees on a cool-down period and/or rest break and large enough for the number of employees who remain onsite for meal periods.
  • Monitoring – Supervisors should be aware of the indications of heat-born issues and regularly ask staff if they are experiencing any symptoms. Employees should be encouraged to take breaks in the shade when needed, and not instructed to go back to work until all signs or symptoms of heat illness have abated.
  • Pre-shift Meetings – If the temperature reaches 95 degrees, employers must conduct paid pre-shift meetings to inform employees of high heat procedures and to remind employees to drink plenty of water and take breaks in the shade.
  • Training – All employees in a high heat work environment should be trained on related topics such as the availability of water and shade, recognizing symptoms of heat illness, and emergency procedures.
  • Services – All employees at a worksite must be able to contact a supervisor or summon medical services if heat illness symptoms do not resolve in a timely manner.

If an employee does fall victim to a heat related illness, recovery may not be immediate, and employers should be prepared to provide required paid sick leave. California state law requires employers to provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave to employees, and San Diego City mandates obligate employers to provide at least 40 hours. What’s more, there is a measure going through the California legislature to increase the number of paid sick days to seven.

Register for our Mid-Year Employment Law Update, July 14, 9:30am – 11:00am to learn about other potential legislation that will affect employers. And don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about your companies’ responsibilities in regard to safety and heat illness. We are not just here for you, we are HeRe with you. 858-505-0024

Contact us: 858.505.0024