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With temperatures hotter than Texas, employers must do more to protect workers from extreme heat.

PMG: PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Carpenters brave the heat to build wooden forms for a concrete pour on an apartment project in Northwest Portland in 2017.

The Oregon state worker safety agency says employers must offer more access to cool water and shade in the event of another heat dome.

Oregon OSHA, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, also asked for cool-down breaks and a system for workers to report to their supervisors when the heat is at 80F or above. Employers must also train staff in dealing with heat sickness by Aug. 1, 2021.

When the ambient heat index hits 90F, businesses must also have an emergency medical plan.

On June 26, 2021, a male in his 40s working for Brother Farm Labor Contractor at Ernst Nursery and Farms in St. Paul died in the fields during Oregon's heatwave when the local temperature peaked at 114F and at 116F at the Portland airport.

PMG: PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Kris Meining and Josh Phelps work through the heat in 2017. New temporary rules by Oregon OSHA aim to prepare outdoor workers for days over 80F, with companies having to provide water, shade and training to treat heat sickness.

Oregon OSHA says it had already begun looking into its rule-making procedure in February 2021 but pushed forward an emergency ruling because of the surprise peak in temperatures.

"Oregon OSHA is adopting these Heat Illness Prevention rules in Division 2 - General occupational safety and health and Division 4 - Agriculture. These rules offer protection in both indoor and outdoor environments, with exceptions for heat generated from a work process (such as occurs in foundries)," the agency said in a release.

The ruling covers construction sites, is effective immediately, and stays in place for 180 days.

Oregon has recorded 116 deaths from the heatwave and Washington state 78.


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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