Brown orders immediate OSHA heat safety rules
Gov. Kate Brown ordered the Oregon Health and Safety Administration to enact emergency rules to protest workers in extreme heat on Tuesday, July 6, the same day death toll from record-breaking temperatures rose to 107 statewide and 67 in Multnomah County.
In a July 6 press release, Brown's office said these "temporary rules are expected to expand requirements for employers to provide shade, rest time and cool water for workers during high and extreme heat events."
Permanent rules are not yet determined but are expected to be put into place by Fall 2021, officials said.
"While Oregon OSHA has been working to adopt permanent rules related to heat, it became clear that immediate action was necessary in order to protect Oregonians, especially those whose work is critical to keeping Oregon functioning and oftentimes must continue during extreme weather," Brown said in a statement.
Brown also ordered an after-action review to help determine how the state can improve its response in extreme heat situations. She plans to meet with various agencies and leaders in the next few weeks for recommendations and ideas on how to better handle these events.
KOIN 6 News checked with both Multnomah County and the city of Portland to see what steps they're taking to deal with another similar situation. Each office said they either haven't had their after-event meetings or are still working to figure out how to do a better job next time.
The death count is from preliminary data. The number may continue to grow as investigations are updated and new information is added by various county medical examiners.
Many of those who died in the high heat were alone, in a spot without air conditioning or a fan. Social service agencies said they warned thousands of clients about the heat and made a lot of visits to check before the extreme heat hit.
The heat wave shut down the Portland Parks & recreation pools. There were only three large cooling centers, plus five district libraries, and getting to them was an issue because the TriMet's MAX light rail system shut down. There were also problems with the emergency line 211.
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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