The permanent heat rule went into effect June 15th, 2022 and the wildfire smoke rule on July 1st, 2022. These rules are designed to prevent heat-related illnesses and exposure to wildfire smoke, both of which have the capacity to be relentless during Southern Oregon summers.
At 80°F, the heat rule calls for employers to provide water, shade, the ability to communicate, and training. Once the heat index reaches 90°F or higher, there are further requirements, which include frequent cooling breaks and an acclimatization plan. A written plan is required for the heat rule, which is also required to be located at each work site.
When implementing the wildfire smoke rule, it is important to understand the basics, such as learning about AQI (Air Quality Index) and what the various numbers mean. With the wildfire smoke rule, the rule takes effect when the AQI reaches 101 and filtering face piece respirators need to be made available for voluntary use.
When the AQI reaches 251, employees exposed to wildfire smoke are required to wear a filtering face piece respirator in accordance with Appendix A in the rule. When the AQI reaches 501, Appendix A is no longer applicable, and you will need to implement a Respiratory Protection Program (i.e. medical evaluation and fit testing).
You can read more about the new requirements of the heat and wildfire smoke rules here:
In safety, the first and best line of defense is to remove the hazard whenever possible. When possible, rescheduling work for the coolest part of the day is a great idea. For many professions, such as public works, law enforcement, etc., this is not always feasible. Setting up misting tents, providing cooling packs or vests, and my personal favorite for law enforcement: Cool Cop Body Armor Air Conditioning. As temperatures increase, this is must for police officers who are running call to call.
There are so many great ideas out there that Southern Oregon employers are putting together on how to keep folks cool at work. Please join us for the August meeting and get to know what other employers are doing to keep employees cool. See you then!