Cooling Water for Outdoor Employees

If you’ve never been to the Central Valley of California (where my Modesto office is), one thing you’ll quickly realize in the summer is that it gets hot. Like 110 degrees hot. All the time. I was at the Modesto Home Depot the other day and came across this sign reminding employers to provide drinking water for their employees — and, of course, to do that with a water cooler from Home Depot. I knew that California required employers to provide water, but I had never looked up what the precise law was. Having seen this sign and being a lawyer and very nerdy, I decided to look it up. It turns out that it isn’t statute that requires employers to provide cooling water to employees, but rather that it’s a regulation. Specifically, it’s Title 8 Section 3395 of the California Code of Regulations entitled “Heat Illness Prevention” issued by the Department of Safety and Health within the California Department of Industrial Relations.  Lawyers often cite this as “8 CCR 3395.” Under Labor Code section 6308 and 6317, the Department of Safety and Health — otherwise known as Cal/OSHA — has the authority to enforce Section 3395. Section 3395(c) of Title 8 specifies what the providing of water: “Provision of water. Employees shall have access to potable drinking water meeting the requirements of Sections 1524, 3363, and 3457, as applicable, including but not limited to the requirements that it be fresh, pure, suitably cool, and provided to employees free of charge. The water shall be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working. Where drinking water is...