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Calif. regulators rule water must be readily accessible on outdoor job sites

Posted On: Mar. 2, 2023 10:23 AM CST


The California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board announced Monday that outdoor job sites must contain accessible potable drinking water close to where employees work, the precedential decision binding for employers in a state considered to be one of the world’s largest economies.

The OSHAB determined that outdoor workplace drinking water must be located “as close as practical” to areas where employees are working to encourage frequent hydration.

The recent decision comes after California workplace safety inspectors opened a case against the Napa, California-based Rios Farming Co. vineyard in St. Helena in August 2018, at which time workers were found having to climb through multiple grape trellises to access drinking water, according to the OSHAB.

An administrative law judge had found that the grape trellises were an obstacle that discouraged workers from frequent water consumption, and the board ended up affirming the judge’s decision, which sets precedent for workplace safety standards.  

Rios Farming Co. had initially appealed the citation, but the administrative law judge affirmed the penalty, although the amount of monetary fines was ultimately modified.