Frequently Asked Questions
  1. When does my employer have to have shade available? Is it only during heat waves?
    Once the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius), employers must have shaded areas up and ready or have ready access to adequate natural shade. If the temperature is less than this, they must have it on-hand if a worker asks to rest in the shade.
  2. Is shade only for workers who are sick, or can we take our breaks under the shade structures?
    No, you don’t need to be sick to rest in the shade. Employers are required to provide shade to any worker that requests it si that they can sit comfortably without touching each other. The employer is required to provide enough shade for all employees on preventative recovery rests and breaks. The employer is also required to provide enough shade for all employees remaining on site and taking their meal period. Employees have the right to a minimum 5 minute cool down rest in the shade at any time during the shift, and employers are reminded that they have an obligation to tell employees that they have these rights without retaliation. The shade should be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.
  3. How much water should I be drinking in a 10-hour shift?
    It is recommended that workers drink 4 cups (8 cones) of water every hour. It is best to drink a small amount of water often, like 2 cones every 15 minutes. The employer would be required to provide a minimum of 2-1/2 gallons of water for each employee for a ten hour shift, or have effective replenishment procedures should they start with less water.
  4. If I bring my own container with water does that mean it is my responsibility to bring my own water everyday?
    No, employers are required to provide workers with clean, pure, suitably cool, potable drinking water throughout their work shift at no cost to the employee. Even if you bring your own water, the employer must have enough potable water for each worker to drink 4 cups every hour throughout the entire workday, at no cost to the worker. Additionally, all water containers must be clean.
  5. How close by does drinking water have to be?  
    Water must always be “readily accessible” and as easy as possible for workers to reach while working. This can vary based on the working conditions and lay out of the worksite. Cal/OSHA is looking for the water to be as close to the employee as is practical.
  6. What type of training should I be given about heat illness prevention?
    All supervisors and employees must be trained on heat illness prevention before working outdoors. This includes: information on what to do in an emergency and who to call for medical help; factors that put you at greater risk for heat illness; specific company heat illness prevention and emergency procedures; key prevention steps; the concept, importance, and methods of acclimatization (gradually and safely getting used to working in the heat); and common signs and symptoms of heat illnesses. All training must be done in a language and manner that all employees understand.
  7. Who should pay the workers during the time they are being trained?
    Workers should be on the clock (paid) when they participate in workplace health and safety training or pre-shift meetings.
  8. Should my employer tell me where the nearest hospital is? Do I have to pay for it?
    Your employer must have a plan that describes who will be contacted for medical help if someone develops symptoms, and he or she must train you on who this is and how to contact them. Your employer must also give you training on steps to take in case of an emergency, including appropriate first aid procedures for heat illness; and how to give clear and precise directions to the work site if you need to call 911. Workers are not responsible for any medical or ambulance costs related to workplace illness or injuries.
  9. How do I report a problem to Cal/OSHA? Do I have to give my name or can I remain anonymous?
    Cal/OSHA is the agency responsible for enforcing workplace health and safety for all workers, regardless of immigration status. If your employer does not resolve a workplace hazard, you can report the problem to Cal/OSHA. You don't have to give your name, but if you do, it will remain confidential.

    Call the Heat Helpline at 1-877-99CALOR for more information on how to report a problem to Cal/OSHA, or contact your local office.
  10. Will Cal/OSHA send someone out for inspection when a worker calls?
    Cal/OSHA takes all reports seriously. Cal/OSHA investigators will inspect a worksite if the information reported indicates that the employer is violating worker health and safety standards or workers are in danger of heat illness, injury or death.
  11. Where can I obtain additional information on the changes to the heat illness prevention standard or ask additional questions?
    There are additional, updated, documents on the Heat web page located at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html

    Additional heat questions can be directed, by email, to heat@dir.ca.gov