Oregon has enacted a final rule that requires employers to provide protections to workers that are exposed to high heat. The final rule is effective immediately.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had adopted an emergency rule in July 2021 that added protections for workers against heat hazards.
The final rule creates a permanent safety standard that requires Oregon employers to take steps to prevent heat illness when temperatures meet or exceed certain temperatures. The standard also defines safety terms and provides limited exceptions to the requirements. See the text of the law for definitions and exceptions.
The standard applies to indoor and outdoor environments and adds requirements for when the temperature in the work area meets or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit (high heat) and when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit (extreme heat).
The standard does not apply to:
- Employee transportation, when employees are in a vehicle and are not performing work;
- Work activities with less than 15 minutes of exposure in a 60-minute period;
- Buildings and structures that have a mechanical ventilation system that keeps the heat index below 80 degrees Fahrenheit;
- Emergency services; or
- Other less common exceptions. See the text of the law for further details.
High Heat Requirements:
Employers must provide annual training on heat illness prevention before employees begin work that would reasonably be anticipated to expose them to the risk of heat illness.
The training must be provided to all employees, including new employees, supervisory and non-supervisory employees, and be in a language and vocabulary that is readily understood and in a manner that facilitates employee feedback.
The training must cover the following factors:
- Heat acclimatization and what affects the tolerance of heat stress;
- Common signs and symptoms of the types of heat-related illness;
- Employee and employer rights and obligations;
- Environmental and personal risk factors relating to heat illness;
- The reasons to quickly report signs or symptoms of illness.
Note: Employees that work from home must also be provided this training.
Employers must prepare and maintain written or electronic training records that can be provided to Oregon OSHA upon request and contain the:
- Name or identification of each employee trained;
- Date(s) of the training; and
- The name of the person who conducted the training.
Note: Employers must maintain each employee’s most recent annual training record.
Under the standard, when the temperature of a work area reaches the high heat threshold, an employer must provide the following to employees:
- Access to an adequate supply of free cool or cold drinking water (enough for each employee to have 32 ounces of water per hour);
- Ample opportunity to drink water; or
- A shaded area that meets certain specifications or, if that is not safe or not feasible, provide other cooling measures.
Extreme Heat Requirements:
Employers with workers that may be exposed to extreme heat must:
- Develop and implement effective acclimatization practices that, through gradual exposure, allow for the temporary adaptation of the body to work in heat;
- Assign responsibility to at least one employee per worksite to make emergency medical service calls;
- Maintain effective worksite communication between supervisors and employees;
- Ensure that employees are observed and monitored for signs and symptoms of heat illness through:
- The creation of a mandatory buddy system;
- Ensuring regular communications to employees that work alone; or
- Another equally effective system of observation or communication;
- Have all employees take required rest breaks in a shaded or temperature-controlled area;
- Implement a rest break schedule model as required by law, either:
- A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health plan;
- An employer-made schedule that is based on the effect of clothing and PPE, work intensity, and the location and relative humidity at the work location; or
- Oregon OSHA’s simplified schedule. This requires longer and more frequent breaks as temperatures at the worksite increase, and requires breaks lasting at least 10 minutes every two hours.
See the text of the law for further breakdowns of the models.
Emergency Medical Plan Requirements:
Employers must maintain an effective emergency medical plan that addresses topics, such as:
- What to do if a worker is observed to have or reports signs or symptoms of heat illness (the worker must be relieved from duty, provided with means to reduce body temperature, and be offered on-site first aid or provided with access to emergency medical services); and
- The procedures (how and when) to contact emergency medical services.
Oregon employers should ensure their health and safety policies meet all applicable final rule requirements, and provide training, water and appropriate rest spots to covered employees.