Last week, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, OSHA, adopted an emergency rule requiring employers to put new safeguards in place during extreme heat events. Under the new rules, when the heat index is at or above 80 degrees, employers are required to provide access to “sufficient shade and an adequate supply of drinking water”. When the heat index rises above 90 degrees, employers also must ensure effective communication between workers and supervisors so workers can report concerns, ensure that employees are observed for alertness and signs of heat illness, and provide a cool-down rest period in the shade of 10 minutes for every two hours of work.
Elin Miller, Co-Chair of the Oregon Wine Council said these new requirements will make farming in Oregon more challenging.
“The fact that they’re immediate. You know, there’s a training requirement, for example, that’s very in depth training requirement we’re making employees aware of risk factors for heat illness and things we employers may not have, detailed backgrounds, so we’ve asked OSHA to provide what some of that training materials might look like. So, that’s a big hurdle.”
Miller added many in the farming community were already providing shade breaks as well as water and sports drinks.
“But this is very prescriptive so, we’re going to have to be doing a lot of work to get up to speed and make sure we’re prepared for the implementation of this which is immediate.”
More than 100 people died across Oregon during the late June heatwave, including an immigrant worker from Guatemala. OSHA is investigating both the nursery and the labor contractor.
The temporary rule will be in place for the next 180 days. Click Here to read the details of the emergency rule issues by OSHA.
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