A recent amendment to the California Labor Code takes California’s Heat Illness Prevention Statute a step further by requiring “CDRPs…” What are CDRPs you ask? They are mandatory Cool Down and Recovery Periods to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke for workers subjected to outdoor work in high heat conditions. The CDRP language can be found under Labor Code Section 226.7. Although the Statute does not set a time limit for the recovery period, it does mandate that the employee should not be working during the cool down period. For those of you who do not already know, California’s Heat Illness Prevention Statute requires employers to provide training, access to shade and drinking water for workers subjected to high heat conditions. The addition of CDRPs provides greater protection to workers by allowing them to take an actual break from the heat rather than just carrying on work under a shaded structure or having a quick drink of water.
Employers should be careful to follow these laws because violations would result in paying wage premiums, in addition to meal and rest period premiums, if audited by Cal/OSHA.
This brings me to a topic, undocumented workers, which “dove tails” nicely with heat related illness for outdoor workers. As we know, many outdoor workers are undocumented immigrants. The question then arises whether these employees are covered by the workers compensation system given their federal immigration status. The answer, in California, is yes undocumented workers are covered by the workers compensation system. California codified this under Labor Code Section 1171.5. This is not the case in all states. Some states specifically exclude undocumented workers from coverage via their state statutes and some states simply have not addressed the issue.