Oregon OSHA Proposes Heat Illness Prevention Rule

Posted on 2/7/2022 by Lauren Scott

To better protect workers in the state from climate-related hazards, Oregon OSHA proposed requirements for employers concerning heat illness prevention.

The announcement comes shortly after US OSHA announced its own plans to create a Federal standard for occupational heat exposure safety.

The Oregon OSHA rule would apply to any indoor or outdoor workplace in the state where heat dangers are caused by the weather and where the heat index equals or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Oregon OSHA has written several exemptions, including incidental heat exposures, where an employee is not required to perform work for more than 15 minutes in any 60-minute period.

General employer requirements for when the heat index equals or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit include:
  • Sufficient shade that is immediately and readily available to employees.
  • An adequate supply of cool drinking water—immediately and readily available to employees—with plenty of opportunities to stay hydrated.

When the heat index equals or exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit (and work schedules and controls do not reduce worker exposure below that level) then employers must engage in certain practices, such as:                                                    
  • Implementation of a heat illness prevention work/rest schedule that is adjusted for effective protection.                                              
  • Written plans and procedures to gradually adapt employees to working in the heat, known as acclimatization.
  • A written heat-illness prevention plan that spells out what will be done to protect employees and is made available to employees.
  • Annual training and information for all employees and supervisors in a language that is readily understood.
Oregon OSHA is seeking public input on the proposed rule, starting with virtual public hearings on February 23, 24, and 25.

The state safety agency anticipates adopting the rule in April 2022, ahead of the grow and wildfire seasons. The rulemaking effort is part of Oregon’s larger and ongoing work to mitigate the impacts of climate change, according to Governor Kate Brown.

US OSHA Closes Comment Period on National Heat Illness Safety Rule

The comment period for US OSHA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings expired on January 26, 2022. The ANPRM was introduced as part of OSHA’s comprehensive initiative on occupational heat exposure, which included a series of rulemakings, initiatives, inspections, and committee expansions.

The heat illness prevention initiative was introduced partially due to the June 2021 heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, when states reported hundreds of excess deaths and thousands of emergency room visits for heat-related illness.

Protect Your Workers from Heat Hazards

The signs of heat-related illnesses may seem obvious. However, the symptoms can mimic numerous other, much less serious conditions. Don’t leave your team’s safety to chance! Lion’s Heat Illness Prevention – Supervisors course prepares supervisors to recognize and protect their team from the effects of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion, among other injuries and illness associated with heat. The course is available online, so you can learn at your own pace and earn useful resources you can save, print, and keep.

Tags: employee safety, heat exposure, heat illness, occupational safety, Oregon, osha, worker safety

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