Oregon OSHA Adopts Emergency Heat Stress Rule and Plans Rigorous Enforcement

Due to the recent heat waves in the Northwest, Oregon OSHA adopted two emergency temporary rules to protect workers from heat related illnesses.  The key requirements apply to any workplace where extreme heat caused by weather can expose workers to heat related illnesses – defined as medical conditions resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load.  The rules apply to indoor and outdoor workplaces when the heat index equals or exceeds 80oF.  Additional requirements apply when the heat index exceeds 90 oF.

Requirements for Heat Index of 80 degrees Fahrenheit

The key requirements that apply to all workplaces include the following when the heat index equals or exceeds 80 oF:

  • Employers must establish one or more shade areas Shade may be provided by natural or artificial means as long as it is safe and does not discourage access or use.
  • Employers must ensure that all employees have an adequate supply of drinking water. Enough water must be available so that each employee can consume 32 ounces per hour and the water must be cooled or chilled. Water packaged as electrolyte replenishing drinks that do not contain caffeine are acceptable substitutes but should not be used to completely replace water.
  • Employers are not required to supply the entire amount of water to employees at the beginning of a shift as long as there is a procedure in place to ensure that the water consumed is replaced.

High Heat Practices for Heat Index of 90 degrees Fahrenheit

When the heat index equals or exceeds 90 oF employers must implement these additional practices:

  • Ensure effective communication is established and maintained so that employees working on a site can contact a supervisor when necessary
  • Ensure that employees are monitored for signs of heat illness.
  • Ensure that each employee takes a minimum 10-minute preventative cool down rest break in the shade at least every two hours, regardless of length of the shift.
  • Employers must implement an emergency medical plan that complies with Oregon OSHA’s rules for Medical and First Aid (437-002-1061) as well as including procedures for:
    • Responding to employees’ signs and symptoms of possible heat illness
    • Use of first aid and how emergency medical services will be provided.
    • Contacting emergency medical personnel and ensuring that clear and precise directions are provided.
  • Employers must develop and implement effective acclimatization practices.

Training Requirements

By August 1st, all employees, including new hires, supervisory and non-supervisory employees are trained in the following topics before they begin work at sites where the heat index will be 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.  Topics to be covered include:

  • Environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness
  • Procedures the employer will use to comply with the requirements of this standard, including provision of water on a daily basis, shade, cool-down rests, how to report symptoms of heath related illness, access to first aid.
  • Procedures that will be used to adapt to working in a hot environment.
  • The importance of immediately reporting heat-related illness symptoms in themselves or co-workers.
  • The effects of non-job factors, such as medications, alcohol, and obesity, on tolerance to heat stress.
  • The main types of heat related illnesses and their signs and symptoms.

For More Information

To help employers achieve compliance and reduce the risk of heat stress, Oregon OSHA has developed a series of resources that can be found at the Agency’s Heat Stress website.

Questions?  Contact PRINTING United’s Regulatory Affairs team at govtaffairs@printing.org.


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