Carlsbad Unsafe Workplace Temperature Attorney

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Carlsbad Unsafe Workplace Temperature Lawyer

California’s worker protections require a safe work environment for all California employees. This includes indoor and outdoor temperature regulations and laws. Parts of the state can have extremely hot summers, and certain occupations expose employees to dangerous working conditions that put them at high risk for heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Under the California labor code and certain regulations, employers are required to provide essential protections for employee health and safety, such as rest, shade, and water when required to work in high heat.

Employees working indoors or outdoors in excessive heat are prone to dizziness, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms of heat illness. If you are experiencing or have experienced this, and your employer is not providing their employees with sufficient opportunities for breaks and other health necessities, you could file a claim against your employer.

An unsafe temperature workplace attorney who understands local, state, and federal employment law can help you protect your rights and your safety. You could also receive compensation to cover medical harm or other damages because of your employer’s negligence.

Clapp & Lauinger LLP: Carlsbad Unsafe Workplace Temperature Lawyers

Employers must follow all laws and regulations that protect employee rights. However, laws and regulations related to health and safety are especially important and not always as clear. If an employer fails to communicate and train employees on safety requirements, employees can be hospitalized or even die from heat illness. The welfare of employees should be held as the highest priority. Unfortunately, many employers fail to do this, and employees are subjected to unsafe working conditions.

At Clapp & Lauinger LLP, we have represented Southern California employees proudly for 30 years. Our attorneys have handled individual claims of workplace misconduct or dangerous conditions, as well as class action claims, where many employees come forward with complaints against the same employer. Our firm has successfully negotiated numerous employment claims and litigated for employees in court.

Understanding Heat Illness

When overheated, the human body expels heat through sweating and circulation. Heat illnesses occur when the body  is unable to expel heat quickly enough to maintain a healthy temperature balance. Heat illness can come in the form of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heat syncope. Manual labor and high-intensity tasks in high heat leaves a person more at risk for heat illness. Other conditions that may increase the dangers of heat-related illnesses include:

  • Radiant sun heat
  • Humidity levels
  • Conductive heat
  • Air movement and ventilation
  • Severity and duration of work
  • Clothing and protective equipment worn by employees

Heat-related illnesses cause excess sweating that dehydrates the body and creates excessive skin problems. This leads to symptoms such as:

  • Skin rash
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Excess sweating or no sweating at all
  • Muscle spasms
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fast and weak pulse
  • Clammy skin or skin that is hot and dry
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting and unconsciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Death

Even the most minor symptoms of heat illness can lead to other accidents in the workplace. When employees are weakened or confused from heat exhaustion or other heat related illness, they may collapse or operate machinery incorrectly while in this state.

Employees Vulnerable to Temperature Violations

Both indoor and outdoor employees are vulnerable to high heat in California workplaces. Outdoor work environments have stronger legal protections, but outdoor workplaces still have a high likelihood of employers who violate worker rights and protections. Vulnerable indoor and outdoor employees include:

  • Warehouse employees
  • Agricultural employees
  • Landscaping and construction employees
  • Factory and manufacturing employees
  • Transportation employees
  • Kitchen and restaurant employees
  • Laundry employees
  • Other service employees

Outdoor work requires physical labor in potentially dangerous heat and sunlight, while indoor worksites can have a lack of ventilation or air conditioning in heat waves. Workplace temperature violations can lead to illness, injury, and death for both indoor and outdoor employees.

California Temperature Regulations and Laws

Temperature protocols and related requirements are regulated largely by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). These regulations cover both extreme heat and extreme cold.

Indoor Workplace Temperature Regulations

As of 2023, Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention regulations only apply to outdoor employment. A bill was introduced in 2016 to address and regulate temperature requirements for indoor workplaces that has been stuck in the legislative process ever since. Currently, indoor regulations are laid out by the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). Failing to adhere to these guidelines will result in civil penalties. Any conflicting state or federal laws take precedence over IWC guidelines.

IWC temperature requirements for indoor workplaces are as follows:

  1. The indoor temperature is comfortable and adheres to industry standards for the type of work being done.
  2. When work creates excessive heat or humidity, employers must do everything to reduce this and create reasonable comfort. Work that must be done in less than 60 °F requires employers to provide a warm room for employees to rest in at 68 °F or greater.
  3. Restrooms, break rooms, and changing rooms have a required temperature of 68 °F or higher during active hours.

Workplaces should be temperately comfortable for employees and ensure their health and safety. The IWC also requires that employees are provided with suitable seating if the work allows it. When work requires standing, adequate seats should be provided for rest breaks near their worksite. This allows employees to take the necessary rests needed to aid their bodies in the cooling down process during excessive heat.

Outdoor Workplace Temperature Laws

Outdoor employment temperature regulations are maintained as law under the California Labor Code and endorsed by Cal/OSHA.

Employers are required to keep an eye on temperature predictions for workdays in advance and know when temperatures will be higher than 80 °F. When the temperature on the jobsite exceeds 80 °F, precautions need to be taken for heat. This includes:

  • Provide adequate shade with either open air or adequate cooling and ventilation.
  • Encourage employees to rest in the shade.
  • Monitor resting and working employees for signs of heat illness.
  • Provide employees access to fresh, pure, free, and reasonably cool drinking water.
  • Allow a slower-paced schedule for work activities.
  • End work activity earlier, reschedule certain job tasks, or work during cooler times of the day.

The actions taken should reflect the temperature of the worksite. When worksite temperatures reach 95 °F, employers are required to implement the following high-heat procedures:

  1. Ensure the ease of communication in the workplace. Employees on the jobsite must be able to contact a supervisor when needed.
  2. Monitor employees for signs of heat illness. This may be done with supervised observation by one designated person over no more than 20 employees, a mandatory buddy system, regular communication with an employee, or another effective way to ensure the proper and effective observation of heat illness symptoms.
  3. Designate at least one employee per worksite to call emergency services when necessary.
  4. Encouraging employees to drink water and take rests through their work shift
  5. Meetings before work to go over procedures for high heat, remind employees that they should drink water, and ensure that employees understand their right to a cool-down break

Employees working outdoors in the agriculture sector have additional precautions during high heat. Employers must provide employees with:

  • A 10-minute preventative cool-down rest break every 2 hours. This cool-down break can coincide with a meal or rest break.
  • An additional preventative cool-down rest break at the end of the eighth hour of work when work days are longer than 8 hours.
  • An additional preventative cool-down rest break at the end of the tenth hour of work when work days are longer than 10 hours.

Heat Acclimation

Cal/OSHA also requires that employers provide certain employees with acclimation periods. Acclimation allows the body to adapt to the heat through gradual exposure. Employees who have not worked in high heat before, or have had a break from working in high heat, require acclimation periods. If a heat wave hits suddenly, acclamation may be necessary for all employees. Without acclimation, employees are significantly more likely to develop heat-related illnesses.

Cal/OSHA defines complete acclimation for most employees as at least 2 hours each day in the heat for 4 to 14 days. During this time, acclimating individuals should be provided with ample rest, water, and shade, and they should be monitored for any signs of heat illness.

Acclimation allows the body to sweat more quickly, cooling the body more efficiently and limiting the risk of heat illness.

Medical Conditions Worsened in Heat

Employees across all industries have the right to reasonable accommodation. For mental or physical disabilities, illnesses, or injuries, employees have the right to request accommodations that allow them to complete their job duties. It is considered reasonable accommodation as long as it does not cause undue hardship to the business.

If an employee has a medical condition or disability that is worsened during extreme heat or cold, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for that employee. This may include additional breaks, alternate job duties that are less strenuous, or being placed in a cooler area of the workplace.

Employee Training

Employers are required to train their employees to recognize signs of heat-related illnesses. Additional required precautions include:

  • Learn how to monitor weather conditions and the potential for high heat.
  • Designate one or more people per worksite or work crew to call emergency services, and allow any employee to call these services if the designated persons are unavailable.
  • Ensure that high-heat procedures are reviewed prior to shifts.
  • Remind supervisors to cover hydration, preventative cool-down rest breaks, additional rests, employee observation, and the designated emergency service contact.

Heat illness prevention plans should be made available to employees on the job. They should be written in English and in the language predominantly spoken and read by the existing employees.

Basic Employee Rights for California Employees

Employees who are subject to workplace temperature violations may also be suffering from other violations of their basic employee rights, particularly wage and hour violations. Common wage and hour violations may include:

  • Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
  • Not paying employees the minimum wage of the state or city, whichever is the highest
  • Failing to provide a timely paycheck
  • Not giving employees who were terminated or quit their final paycheck in a reasonable timeframe
  • Refusing, discouraging, or failing to provide adequate rest and meal breaks
  • Not paying employees for before-shift work that is essential to their job duties
  • Failing to pay employees for overtime work
  • Improper compensation for commission sales
  • Not reimbursing employees for necessary work expenses

Employees also have the right to a workplace and hiring process free of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and illegal termination. If any of your basic worker’s rights have been violated, a Southern California employment attorney can determine what legal action you can take to earn compensation and back pay, among other damages.

Do I Need a Carlsbad Workplace Temperature Attorney?

An employer who fails to uphold basic safety requirements that endangers the health and lives of employees needs to be held accountable. Notifying your employer of the violation may provide a solution. Unfortunately, there are situations where conditions will not improve and employers will even cut back on safety precautions and requirements on purpose to save money. If you have found yourself in a dangerous working situation, a workers’ rights attorney can help you determine what the right course of action is. Your attorney may assist you with filing a complaint with Cal/OSHA or filing a claim against your employer.

Although an attorney is not required to file these claims, they do make the process faster and increase the success rate. A lawyer knows what information is necessary for a complaint or claim, how to draft the form, what evidence is needed, and if you enter negotiations or litigation against your employer, your attorney can represent you. Having an attorney by your side from the beginning saves you stress, protects your rights if your employer retaliates, and ensures that you will receive the compensation you deserve.

Clapp & Lauinger LLP Can Protect Your Carlsbad Employee Rights in Unsafe Working Conditions

Every employee deserves a safe work environment. Heat illness is a hazard that can lead to hospitalization or death. It is an employer’s responsibility to protect their employees from these hazards by following the laws and regulations put in place to protect them. Employers who carelessly endanger their employees need to be held responsible. If any of your basic employee rights have been violated in Carlsbad and the Southern California area, contact Clapp & Lauinger LLP.

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