With summer arriving and temperatures starting to rise, Oregon employers should familiarize themselves with the new Oregon OSHA Heat Illness Prevention standard (OAR 437-002-0156) that comes into effect on June 15, 2022.

Covered Employers

The new standard applies to workplaces when an employee is performing work activities in any environment (both indoor or outdoor) where the heat index is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) or higher. Additional high heat requirements apply if the heat index reaches 90°F.

Key Requirements for Covered Employers

Covered employers must take the following steps to prevent heat illness in the workplace:

  1. Provide access to shade. Shade may be provided through any natural or artificial means and must (a) be open to the air or have mechanical ventilation for cooling, (b) be located as close as practical to the areas where employees are working, and (c) accommodate at least the number of employees on recovery, rest, or meal periods.
  2. Provide cool or cold drinking water. There must be enough readily available cool (66-77°F) or cold (35-65°F) water for each employee to consume 32 ounces per hour at no cost to the employee. Employees must also be given ample opportunities to consume the water.
  3. Emergency Medical Plan. The employer’s emergency medical plan must address employee exposure to excessive heat, in accordance with existing rules for emergency medical plans.
  4. Acclimatization Plan. Employers must develop and implement a written acclimatization plan that allows employees to gradually adapt to working in the heat. Employers may design their own plan that satisfies certain requirements or adopt the plan set forth in the rules.
  5. Heat Illness Prevention Plan (HIPP). Employers must develop, implement, and maintain a written HIPP that address certain topics, such as employee training on the hazards of heat exposure and heat-related illnesses, how employees will be provided with shade, water, and opportunities for rest, and how the employer will implement heat acclimatization procedures.
  6. Ensure supervisor and employee training. Employers must provide annual heat illness prevention training to all employees. The training must cover specific topics set forth in the rules, such as environmental and personal risk factors, types of heat-related illness, and employer responsibilities and employee rights under the new standard. Employers must maintain written or electronic records verifying compliance with the required training.

The standard also imposes new heat illness prevention housing requirements for agricultural labor housing and related facilities. Agricultural employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements found in OAR 437-004-1120(25).

Additional High Heat Requirements for Covered Employers (90°F or higher)

In addition to the key requirements set forth above, employers must also implement these high heat practices when the heat index exceeds 90°F:

  1. Maintain reliable and effective means of communication so that employees can contact a supervisor when necessary.
  2. Monitor employees for signs of heat illness through regular communication with employees working alone, a mandatory buddy system, or other equally effective means of observation or communication.
  3. Designate and equip at least one employee at each site who can call for emergency medical services and allow others to contact emergency services when the designated person is not available.
  4. Measure the temperature and humidity of buildings and structures that do not have a mechanical ventilation system.
  5. Develop and implement a written heat illness prevention rest break schedule. Employers must choose one of three rest break options set forth in the new rules.

Exemptions

Employers should evaluate whether their workplaces or operations are fully or partially exempt from the new standard.

Full Exemptions: Buildings and structures with mechanical ventilation that keeps the indoor heat index less than 80°F; incidental heat exposures from work activities (no more than 15 minutes in any 60-minute period); exposures to heat generated from the work process; and all emergency operations that are directly involved in the protection of life or property, or the restoration of essential services.

Partial Exemptions: Employees who perform only “rest” or “light” workloads; associated support activities for wildland firefighters; and employees who work from home. Sitting and thinking are considered “rest” workloads, while a “light” workload is one that involves sitting or standing with minimal arm and legal work.

Partially exempt employers should take care to understand when, and from which provisions, they are exempt. For example, an employer whose employees perform “rest” or “light” work are exempt from the standard’s key requirements only when the heat index is less than 90°F. If the heat index is 90°F or higher, that employer is no longer exempt and must comply with all requirements (e.g., providing shade and drinking water), including the high heat practices.