OSH Appeals Board Decision in Heat Illness Prevention Case Adds Clarity to Provision of Water Requirements

Sacramento—The Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (OSHAB) has issued a precedential decision regarding the provision of water at outdoor worksites, affirming that it must be as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working to encourage frequent consumption.

 

“This decision provides clarity and should serve as a reminder that employers must take adequate steps to ensure that potable drinking water is as close as practicable to workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip. “Staying adequately hydrated is essential to preventing heat illness, particularly during the hot summer months.”

 

The case clarified the definition of what “as close as practicable” means with water placement at the workplace.

 

Cal/OSHA opened a complaint-initiated safety inspection at the Rios Farming Co. vineyard in St. Helena on August 6, 2018. Inspectors found some workers had to climb through multiple grape trellises to access drinking water. On January 7, 2019, Cal/OSHA cited Rios Farming Co. for a repeat-serious violation for not having water as close as practicable for their employees.

 

Rios Farming Co. appealed the citation and an administrative law judge affirmed the citation on October 12, 2022, with a modified penalty of $27,000.

 

OSHAB issued its decision on February 6, 2023, which clarifies that the term “as close as practicable” in terms of providing water to prevent heat illness means that the water must be as close as reasonably can be accomplished in order to encourage frequent water consumption. In this case, the ALJ found, and the OSHAB affirmed, that the trellises were an obstacle that discouraged employees from frequently drinking water. The ALJ and Board further found that other reasonable options were available to the employer, such as providing a jug of water in each row where the employees were working or providing individual water bottles that employees could carry with them and refill from the jugs.

 

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA is a division with the Department of Industrial Relations that helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers who have questions or want assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.

 

Workers who have questions about their rights or have questions about workplace protections can call Cal/OSHA’s Bilingual Call Center at 833-579-0927 to speak with a Cal/OSHA representative. Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices. Information on heat illness prevention and other resources can be found on Cal/OSHA’s website.

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board is a three-member, judicial body appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to handle appeals from private and public-sector employers regarding citations issued by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health for alleged violation of workplace safety and health laws and regulations. The mission of the Appeals Board is to fairly, timely and efficiently resolve appeals and to provide clear, consistent guidance to the public, thereby promoting workplace safety and health.

 

Media Contact: Communications@dir.ca.gov, (510) 286-1161

 

Employers with Questions on Requirements May Contact: InfoCons@dir.ca.gov, or call your local Cal/OSHA Consultation Office

 

This content was provided by the Department of Industrial Relations and is for general informational purposes only.

Recent Posts

WPCCA Webinar: How Technology is Transforming the Construction Industry

Technology is driving dramatic changes throughout the construction industry and every company is being affected. There is growing use of established software solutions while a host of emerging technologies and digital processes are rapidly gaining traction. Users are learning to…

February 29, 2024

WPCCA Microsoft Project Level 1 Course – Lesson 1

Join us for our first lesson of Microsoft Project Level 1 Course taught by Microsoft Certified Professional, James Law. This lesson will provide training on getting started with Microsoft Project. Attendees will learn how to identify project management concepts from…

February 27, 2024

HubSpot Platform Demo and Q&A

Join us learn more about HubSpot– a holistic customer platform that makes it easy for an entire company to work together — from marketing and sales to customer service. HubSpot provides an all-in-one solution. This demo will focus on their…

February 15, 2024

WPCCA Economic Outlook Webinar: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Has the Federal Reserve successfully engineered a soft landing?  Or, is the confluence of geopolitical conflict, a presidential election, rising consumer debt levels, and still high interest rates conspiring to produce economic downturn in 2024?  It is difficult to know…

January 30, 2024

Clarity On State Law & Drug Testing In The Construction Industry

In 2022, Governor Newsom signed legislation (AB 2188) making cannabis users a protected class of employee. AB 2188 contained a delayed implementation date and took effect on January 1, 2024. The measure prohibited employers from discriminating in hiring, firing or…

January 29, 2024
MORE STORIES