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New law to prevent indoors heat-related workplace injury

Every summer, California employers are reminded to protect their employees concerning outdoor jobs and heat exposure. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict rules and guidelines for prevention of heat illness. However, none of those apply to indoor facilities, where temperatures can soar to dangerous levels. Many a workplace injury in these circumstances is heat-related.

Legislation was passed last year to address this issue. It gives Cal/OSHA until the beginning of 2019 to finalize rules that will govern heat management for the protection of workers in indoor facilities. The state senator who authored that bill is now looking at ways to fast-track the process. She suggested the fiscal impact assessment be skipped, believing that it is in the best interests of indoor workers.

However, several business groups are against the senator's suggestions. They believe that the economic assessment is essential because it will affect thousands of businesses and approximately 18 million employees. Groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce say rules to govern all businesses across a range of industries need thoughtful consideration.

While it is unclear whether the implementation of the new law will be fast-tracked, any employee who suffers a heat-related workplace injury can pursue financial assistance through the California workers' compensation system. The benefits to which he or she will be entitled typically include coverage of medical expenses along with wage replacement if the injury caused temporary disability. The claims process could be complicated, and this is where the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be of significant value.

Source: scpr.org, "Audio: This bill is designed to help CA's sweaty indoor workers", Andrea Bernstein, Sept. 12, 2017

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