California considers ranking heat waves after investigation of extreme heat deaths
|California could become the first state in the nation to adopt a ranking system for heat waves, much the way meteorologists categorize hurricanes. Legislation announced by state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara would create a system to warn communities of potentially deadly heat and encourage official action on prevention strategies.
The announcement comes after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that heat probably caused about 3,900 deaths in California over the previous decade – six times the state’s official tally – and that the undercounting has contributed to a lack of urgency in confronting extreme heat.
Cal/OSHA’s enforcement authority expanded
Governor Newsom this fall signed Senate Bill 606, significantly expanding the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) enforcement authority. SB 606 increases potential exposure for employers with multiple worksites in the state, requires Cal/OSHA to issue “egregious violations” in certain circumstances, increase the potential monetary fines associated with citations, and expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue subpoenas and seek injunctions and temporary restraining orders. The law becomes effective January 1, 2022.