Oregon OSHA Adopts Permanent Rules to Protect Workers From Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke
Effective June 15, 2022 and July 1, 2022 Oregon OSHA’s new rules addressing the prevention of heat related illness and wildfire smoke exposure, respectively.
Oregon OSHA’s Heat Rules
The new rules regarding heat exposure apply when workers are exposed to a heat index of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more for “more than fifteen minutes in any sixty-minute period….” See OAR 437-002-0156. However, the rules do not apply when the het is generated due to a work process, e.g., an oven, or the worker is involved in emergency operations to protect the life or property, e.g., firefighting.
According rules, when heat index is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more employers must provide workers with (1) access to shade for all employees; and, (2) up to 32 ounces of drinking water per worker/hour.
Additional requirements go into effect once the heat index hits 90 degrees or higher. Employers must establish procedures and provide means for employees to identify and communicate regarding suspected heat related illness. Furthermore, they must development and implement a rest break procedure which includes a minimum 10 minutes rest every two hours. As the temperature increases, so does the amount of rest required.
Employers are also required to provide employees with annual training regarding the risks of heat exposure and their processes for compliance with the rules. Such training should occur before employees are exposed to high heat.
Oregon OSHA’s Wildfire Smoke Rules
The new rules regarding wildfire smoke apply when workers are exposed to an air quality index greater than 100. See OAR 437-002-1081. However, there are several exceptions to the rules such as when an employer agrees to halt operations when the AQI hits 100, employees are working from how, or workers are expose to an AQI of 101 for less than 15 minutes in an hour and for less than 1 hours in a day.
Under the rules, employers should conduct an exposure assessment at the start of each shift to determine whether employees will be exposed to an AQI greater than 100. If so, then engineering and administrative controls should be implemented to reduce employee exposure. Such controls include relocating work indoors, changing shift schedules, and using portable air purifies. Employers are also required to provide employees with respiratory protection at no cost to the employee. As the AQI increases, so do the requirements regarding respiratory protection.
Like the heat rules, the wildfire rules also require employers to provide annual training on the symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure and potential health effects. Employees should also be trained on how to obtain the current AQI, use of respirator, and how the employer’s procedures for preventing/reducing wildfire smoke exposure.
The complete text of both rules and be found here and here.
Have questions about Oregon’s OSHA’s new rules? Feel free to contact me at or 503-595-6110.
Posted by: David White.