Washington State Revises Outdoor Heat Stress Regulations

Due to the unusually hot weather that the Pacific Northwest has faced this year, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) issued an emergency rule to revise its existing regulation that will provide increased protection for employees exposed to extreme heat, including those working in agriculture, construction and other outdoor industries. The emergency Outdoor Heat Exposure rule clarifies steps that employers must take to prevent outdoor workers from suffering heat-related illness.

The new regulations took effect on July 13 and expire at the end of September. They are in addition to the requirements in the existing rules. The revised rules require ready access to at least one quart of drinking water per worker per hour, an outdoor heat exposure safety program with training, and an appropriate response to workers who are experiencing heat-related illness symptoms.

When temperatures are at or above 89oF, the new rules combined with existing rules require employers to:

  • Prepare a written outdoor heat exposure safety program and provide training to employees.
  • Update the training requirements for employers and supervisors to include preventative cool-down rests and preventative cool-down rest breaks under the extreme high temperature procedures.
  • Provide water that is cool enough to drink safely.
  • Allow and encourage workers to take additional paid preventative cool-down rest to protect from overheating.
  • Respond appropriately to any employee with symptoms of heat-related illness.

When the temperature is at or above 100oF degrees, employers must respond to the extreme heat by:

  • Providing shade or another sufficient means for employees to cool down.
  • Ensuring workers have a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours. This may be concurrent with existing meal and rest breaks.

For more information, visit L&I’s Be Heat Smart web page for additional steps employers and workers can take to prevent heat-related illnesses. 

You can also contact Marci Kinter at mkinter@printing.org or Gary Jones at gjones@printing.org

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