The indoor heat rule progresses to the next stage following an unexpected vote by the Cal/OSHA Board.

The fate of the proposed regulation to prevent heat illness in indoor workplaces is uncertain as it awaits review at the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The Cal/OSHA Standards Board held a vote on the rule at a tumultuous meeting, despite being advised by the California Finance Department not to do so.

Typically, the OAL conducts a routine review of proposed regulations, ensuring that all necessary steps have been taken. However, in the case of the indoor heat regulation, the OAL’s review could have significant consequences. Prior to the vote, the Department of Finance expressed concerns about the financial impact of the regulation on the state and was unable to provide the necessary approval.

Now, with the Board having voted in favor of the regulation, the question is what the OAL will do next. Legally, the OAL has up to 30 days to approve or reject the regulation. However, unless the Department of Finance changes its stance, it is likely that the OAL will reject the regulation. This leaves the next steps for the Standards Board and proponents of the regulation unclear. The next regular meeting of the Board is scheduled for April 18.

Background on the Indoor Heat Regulation:

The proposed regulation sets requirements for most indoor work areas where the temperature reaches or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with some exceptions. A coalition led by the California Chamber of Commerce, representing employers from various industries, has submitted comments and testimony at each stage of the process. The coalition has recommended revisions to clarify compliance obligations and better protect workers from the risk of heat illness.

At the March 21 hearing, the Standards Board was expected to adopt the latest draft of the regulation. However, Board Chair Dave Thomas announced that the vote would be postponed due to concerns raised by the Department of Finance about the potential cost to the state. This unexpected announcement led to protestors briefly interrupting the meeting, and the Board ultimately decided to postpone the vote. The coalition has also raised concerns about the temperature threshold and proposed exemptions, as well as a potential conflict with existing court interpretations of the outdoor heat regulation. 

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