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Heat Stress Policy (State Government Buildings)

Effective April 1. 1997

1. Workplace Limits and Surveillance

a. Recommended Limits

i. Heat exposure to employees in offices will be limited so that unprotected healthy employees who are not acclimatized to working in hot environments are not exposed to combinations of work and environmental heat greater than an effective temperature (ET - see chart below) of 84°F. For the variety of temperatures and humidity, this is graphically represented on Figure 1. For the purposes of this policy it will be assumed that the typical general office employee is unacclimatized.

ii. Effect of Clothing: The recommended limit given in Figure 1 is for healthy employees who are physically and medically fit for the level of activity required by their job and who are wearing the customary one layer work clothing ensemble consisting of not more than long-sleeved work shirts and trousers (or equivalent). Management may relax any required dress codes as appropriate which are inconsistent with providing maximum comfort to the employee.

b. Temperature & Humidity Measurement

i. Measurement methods: Heat stress exposures will be assessed by measurement of temperature and humidity using an approved, calibrated instrument. Each department shall be responsible for acquiring approved instruments. The Bureau of General Services shall be responsible for developing procedures regarding approved calibration procedures and frequency.

ii. Measurement requirements: Temperature and humidity measurements will be made at or as close as feasible to the work area where the employee is exposed. Measurements will be made by designee(s) appointed by the affected department's commissioner.

iii. Modifications of work conditions: Measurements will be made at least bi- hourly during the hottest portion of each work shift and when a heat wave occurs or is predicted. If two such sequential measurements exceed the applicable effective temperature, then work conditions will be modified by use of air conditioning equipment where feasible, altering work practices, relocation to cooler areas or other measures until two sequential measures are in compliance with the exposure limits of this policy.

iv. Initiation of measurements: The typical outdoor temperature and humidity combination which result in unacceptable indoor conditions (i.e. those nearing the threshold given in Figure 1) for each state employee occupied building will be established as a guide for determining when engineering controls and/or work practices or other control methods will be instituted. After these environmental profiles have been established, measurements will be made as described in (b)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section during the time of year and days when the profile indicates that total heat exposures may be reasonably anticipated to approach the threshold limit or when a heat wave has been forecast by the nearest National Weather Service station or other competent weather forecasting service.

2. Surveillance of Heat-induced Health Events

a. Requirements

In order to evaluate and improve prevention and control measures for heat-induced effects, the following information will be obtained and analyzed for each workplace: identification of highly susceptible employees, data on the occurrence or recurrence in the same employee, and distribution in time, place, and person of heat-induced adverse effects.

3. Employee Information

a. Information Requirements

All employees, who are unacclimatized to heat and work, will be kept informed through continuing education programs, of:

i. Heat stress hazards,

ii. Predisposing factors and relevant signs and symptoms of heat injury and illness,

iii. Potential health effects of excessive heat stress and first aid procedures,

iv. Proper precautions for work in heat stress areas,

v. Employee responsibilities for following proper work practices and control procedures to help protect the health and provide for the safety of themselves and their fellow employees, including instructions to immediately report to the supervisor the development of signs or symptoms of heat stress overexposure, and

vi. The effects of therapeutic drugs, over-the-counter medications, or social drugs (including alcohol), that may increase the risk of heat injury or illness by reducing heat tolerance.

b. Continuing Education Programs

i. The employer will inform all affected employees of the location of written training materials and will make these materials readily available, without cost to the affected employees.

4. Control of Heat Stress

a. General Requirements

i. Where existing air conditioning systems and work practice controls are not sufficient to reduce exposures to below the threshold shown on Figure 1, they will, nonetheless, be used to reduce exposures to the lowest level achievable by these controls.

ii. Where repeated instances of heat related illness occur in otherwise healthy individuals, the Bureau of General Services shall develop an estimated cost to install building temperature control systems or other measures to prevent further occurrence in the area where the illness occurred and request appropriate funding in the Capital Improvement & Repair Budget in the next biennium. Such improvements shall be implemented subject to funding approval by the Legislature.

iii. Department's which have employees with documented medical conditions which make them more susceptible to heat induced illness shall make any reasonable accommodations required by ADA .

b. Work Practices

i. Work modifications and practices will be introduced to reduce heat exposure when building air conditioning systems are not adequate or are not feasible to provide an effective temperature below the threshold limit shown on Figure 1. The most effective practices for reducing heat stress include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) Limiting the time the employee spends each day in the hot environment by decreasing exposure time in the hot environment and/or increasing recovery time spent in a cool environment. The supervisor may allow the employee to utilize flex time where appropriate or relocate employees where possible.

(2) Below the threshold shown on Figure 1, employees may use available compensatory time leave, vacation leave, or "flex" time policies. Such leave shall not be unreasonably denied. For employees who become ill as a result of heat exposure or who have a medical condition such that exposure to heat below this threshold poses a health risk, existing sick leave rules apply.

(3) Below the threshold shown on Figure 1, management will take steps to mitigate the impact of heat and humidity as appropriate for each work site. Such steps may include implementing nocturnal cooling strategies, turning off heat producing lights and equipment, rescheduling carpet cleanings and employee relocations, etc.

(4) When conditions exist above the threshold shown on Figure 1, the employer may permit administrative leave at the determination of the departmental commissioner or the commissioner's designee(s). It should be understood that sending employees home on administrative leave is a last resort to be used only if relocation, alternative work strategies or other modifications are not possible or are inadequate. It is recognized that employees in public safety related positions and employees in essential positions who cannot be moved may be exempted from this policy.

Issued: February 7, 1997

Department of Administrative & Financial Services

Heat Stress Policy Chart