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Gov. Kate Brown directed the agency to adopt the rules following the death of a farmworker during the extreme heat wave.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Ana Karen Pena raises her hands in prayer outside Ernst Nursery where Sebastian Francisco Perez died due to excessive heat in St. Paul, Oregon.Following a directive from Gov. Kate Brown to enact emergency rules, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health on Thursday, July 8. adopted new protections for working conditions during extreme heat waves.

The rules, which are now the strongest in the nation, are in place for 180 days, effective immediately. They apply to both indoor and outdoor job sites.

The directive followed the death of Guatemalan immigrant Sebastian Francisco Perez, who died in a farm field in St. Paul during the heat wave that shattered multiple records from Saturday, June 26, through Monday, June 28. In all, 116 people died across Oregon during that heat wave, according to the most recent count.

The rules include making employers give workers access to shade and cool water, regular cool-down breaks in shade for 10 minutes for every two hours of work and training for workers and supervisors about heat illness and what to watch out for. Workers are encouraged to contact the state if an employer is not complying and can do so anonymously or with more information and the promise of confidentiality.

"Retaliation is against the law, you must not retaliate against a worker who has raised concerns in your workplace about any hazard, including heat stress," Oregon OSHA's Aaron Corvin said.

More than 80,000 people work in Oregon farm fields, harvesting by hand fruits and vegetables.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.


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