California summers can get hot. To protect workers, the state requires employers to take extensive precautions. California’s regulations on heat safety are promulgated by the Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety, which is often referred to as Cal/OSHA.
Cal/OSHA summarizes these requirements as follows:
- Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures.
- Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 quart per hour and encourage workers to do so.
- Shade – Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.1
These regulations raise the cost of work, and thus the value of a claim. But they are “easily missed in the fervor of expedited claims handing,” says public adjuster Corey Locke, who had decades of experience adjusting claims for insurance companies.
Another important pieces not to miss is that heat illness prevention regulations may apply to “indoor” workplaces as well as outdoor ones. According to Cal/OSHA’s July 2018 “Heat Illness Prevention Enforcement Q&A,” if an indoor workplace lacks insufficient ventilation, cooling, or does not protect workers from exposure to direct sunlight, it is treated as “outdoor” under the rules.2 According to Cal/OSHA’s Q&A:
[T]hese structures may actually be hotter than the environment outside of them because of heating by the sun and conditions inside like limited air circulation or lack of insulation. A structure in this category may be considered an outdoor workplace if it does not significantly reduce the net effect of the environmental risk factors that exist immediately outside of the structure.
Including these rules are sure to drive up claim costs, so expect carriers to push back. But including costs for these aspects is not optional. “Starting in June, our temperatures in California soar into the triple digits for weeks on end,” says Locke. Thus, he says these costs are simply “part of an accurate estimate.” So, do not settle your claim without considering whether these regulations will apply to your loss. At the Merlin Law Group, we have attorneys in California available to discuss your situation.