California labor board votes to establish indoor heat protections

By Blanca Begert | 06/21/2024 12:04 PM EDT

The state is the third in the nation with heat protections for indoor workers.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health board approved a rule Thursday to protect workers from indoor heat, making California the third state in the country to do so.

The rules were modeled closely after California’s outdoor heat regulations, established in 2005, which set temperature targets at which point employers have to provide cooling stations, rest breaks, monitor workers for signs of heat illness and implement other protective measures.

Under the new indoor standards, when temperatures hit 82 degrees Fahrenheit, employers need to provide cooling areas with water and encourage employees to use them if needed. At 87 F, employers have to take additional measures to protect workers if they can’t cool the area, like changing worker schedules to cooler times of day, reducing work intensity and speed, rotating workers on shorter shifts, and supplying personal cooling fans and vests as a last resort. (These measures would also be required at 82 F for work that requires employees to wear heat-trapping clothing or work near a radiant heat source.)


The final rule doesn’t apply to work where employees are exposed to temperatures above 82 F but below 95 F for less than 15 minutes.