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GOV. BROWN SIGNS INDOOR HEAT ILLNESS MANDATE

Yes, you read that correctly.  The State of California feels that people working in-doors deserve the same protections from Heat Illness training as outdoor workers.  Now, on some levels this makes sense.  For instance, a worker in a factory could be exposed to severe heat conditions. Other similar places could be electrical generation areas, greenhouses, building construction, attic insulation installers, electricians, plumbers, etc.  So, this could have some practical applications in the workplace.

That being said, it is a very poorly written bill, SB 1167 (Mendoza; D-Artesia) , which gives almost no direction as to the definition of an “indoor occupation” that would be covered under this act.  In fact, the entire project is left almost completely to Cal\OSHA to write and implement this program.  They have to begin the rule making process in 2017 to submit a proposed rule to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board by January 1, 2019.

This is a stakeholder driven process, so it is very important that your industry is part of the conversation.  If you have an advocacy group, get them involved early to state your position before the rules are written.  It is almost impossible to fight or have them re-written later.

 

REST PERIOD BILL ON GOVERNOR’S DESK – AB 1513

SEE UPDATED INFORMATION DATED 1/24/2017

News came down yesterday that there has been negotiations going on between AG attorneys and the State regarding rest periods and employees who are paid by piece-rate, or truckers by the load. As we discussed before, you have to establish a pay rate for when an employee is supposed to take a paid rest break even if they are paid by the load. So the good news is there is some recognition of the problem and a partial solution is headed to the Governor’s desk, but it is several pages and I have not had a chance to digest it all yet. It is called AB 1513 (March 5, 2015). It actually is also combined with changes to Worker’s Compensation where you may also have a problem establishing the pay rate for people when they are injured and cannot work. How do you figure the rate of Disability compensation for piece rate or commission sales employees.

 

There is a lot of complicated language in the 7 page bill, but a couple of things I do see, includes a provision that you may pay employees for non-productive time at a rate of at least the minimum wage or an average of the money an employee earns in a work week divided by the number of hours worked, minus any time spent in non-productive time. It does say that you will need to have a better system for documenting non-productive and rest period time if you are paying that separately from an hourly worker. It will require that you show the amount of rest or cool-down time you are paying for on a separate line on the paycheck stub.

 

You can read more here: https://asmdc.org/members/a37/news-room/press-releases/piece-rate-worker-compensation-bill-to-governor-s-desk

 

As I said, I do not have any big answers right now and there is no guarantee it will be signed (though it is very likely).  Once it takes effect, we will have a little more clarity and I will be able to enlist the help of attorney’s.  Still, I thought it was important to bring to your attention.

UFW IS SANCTIONED WATCHDOG FOR CAL\OSHA

An settlement was reached between the families of 2 farmworkers who have had heat-related deaths over the past couple of years.  The UFW was also engaged in suing the State of California for not aggressively pursuing violators of the heat-illness regulations.

Since those deaths, Cal\OSHA has raised the standards again as we saw with this year’s roll-out of the program in May.  However, that was not enough.  So, in reaching a resolution to the lawsuits, Cal\OSHA has agreed to sanction the UFW as an official Watchdog.  Also, they have agreed to aggressively increase the inspection and overview of agriculture workers in the State over the next few months.

What this means to every farm and ranch owner is that  you better go back and review your training and if you are AT ANY POINT not in compliance, you should fix it now or face a real possibility of stiff fines and further inspections.  It may also be time to watch your neighbors as well.  When they are not in compliance, that draws attention to all locations around them.  With UFW on board, they are just looking for a good reason to get onto your property and organize your workers.  With the new rules regarding organizing meetings set down by the NLRB and our generous State officials, it could be a very long and difficult Summer.

UPDATE

The California Farm Labor Contractor’s Association sent out the following statement to it’s members:

Beware of Strangers – Control Access to Fields!

Dear CFLCA Members and Others:

Most of you are aware that Cal OSHA recently settled an old lawsuit filed by UFW charging inadequate enforcement of the Heat Illness Prevention standard. That settlement included a memorandum of understanding in which Cal OSHA is required to investigate any reports by UFW staff of non-compliance found among agricultural employers. UFW is now sending representatives to fields under the guise of educational outreach to workers on heat illness prevention. They have been active in the Fresno region. Employers are advised that UFW representatives have NO RIGHT to enter your fields, unless they have filed their Notice of Intent and if access has been granted by the ALRB. The grower would have to receive a copy of the notice. Without such notice, UFW representatives should be asked to immediately leave your premises. Click here for a copy of the questionnaire UFW reps are asking employees to complete. It seeks information regarding employer compliance with the standard. It might be used as evidence against the employer for a violation of the rules. Please train all workers to tell any visitors they must wait to talk to the supervisor. And train all supervisors to check all visitors for identification. For Cal OSHA and other enforcement agencies, the supervisor should advise the government agent to wait while the supervisor calls the designated person (safety/HR/Employer) authorized to allow visitor access to the field. All non-authorized visitors, including UFW and CRLA representatives should be respectfully directed to leave the private property.

More comments from HR Mobile Services, Inc.:

Your best defense is good compliance.  Make sure you have plenty of COOL water available, with disposable cups if you use Igloos.  Make sure you have someone refilling the buckets regularly and that they have ice to keep it cool. You must have adequate shade and seating for your employees who are outside and under HIGH HEAT situations.  You must institute the “buddy system”, your supervisors need to monitor all employees hourly, and more frequent breaks are needed.  Employees are allowed cool-down periods also.  New employees must be monitored and oriented to the high heat for their first 2 weeks at work, to allow them to adapt.

If you have any questions, you may contact your loss prevention specialist at HR Mobile Services, Inc.

NEW CAL\OSHA HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION RULES 3/23/2015

Here is a link to the new rules regarding Heat Illness as amended by Cal|OSHA: Copy and paste in a new window…..

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/documents/Heat-Illness-Prevention-Regulation-Amendments.pdf

As you read through it, you will see 3 columns.  The first is existing language, the second is the amended language and the third is the guidance on the new requirements.  Please take the time to read through these regulations and understand them thoroughly.  OSHA will be out investigating and handing out large fines.  They will also be releasing this information to the media and local media loves to let people know when an employer is caught.  If you don’t want those problems, it is best to adjust to these rules NOW.  We are expecting over 80 temperatures next week and on-going for the next several months.

 

New Proposed Rules for Heat Illness!!

The following is quoted from Loss Prevention Specialists, LLC:

DOSH Seeks Major Changes to Heat Illness Standard

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health has just proposed major revisions to California’s heat illness prevention standard. The action

 

is not formal rulemaking, but sending its proposal to the Standards Board is a big first step in revising the almost 10-year-old regulation. California has lead the nation in heat illness standards.

Employers with heat exposures may be well advised to begin adoption in advance.

Among the proposed revisions:

• Requiring employers to provide drinking water as close as practicable but no more than 400 feet from employees, with some wiggle room.

• Shade to be provided when temperatures hit 80 degrees (currently 85F) and no farther than 700 feet from workers.

• Employees who need to take a “cool-down rest” cannot be ordered back to work until symptoms of heat illness have abated. Employers also would have to monitor the worker during the rest period and provide emergency services if the symptoms worsen.

• High-heat procedures would kick in at 85 degrees, instead of the current 95F. The draft also adds specific instructions for observing employees for heat illness signs during high-heat.

• Expanding the training topics that must be provided to employees.

• Adding specific instructions on what must be contained in employers’ written heat illness prevention procedures.

• Requiring supervisors to take “immediate action” if employees show signs of heat illness. Such employees would have to be offered emergency medical services before they could be sent home.

Once the Standards Board reviews the draft, it might return it to DOSH for changes or for questions. No timetable has been set for formal adoption but this appears to be on a fast track.

Editor Note:  If you are a HR Mobile Services, Inc. customer, we are already addressing some of these actions before they become law or regulation.