Oregon adopts most protective heat rules for workers in US

Jul 8, 2021, 2:08 PM | Updated: 4:11 pm
Pedro Lucas, left, nephew of farm worker Sebastian Francisco Perez who died last weekend while work...

Pedro Lucas, left, nephew of farm worker Sebastian Francisco Perez who died last weekend while working in an extreme heat wave, breaks up earth, Thursday, July 1, 2021, near St. Paul, Ore. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

(AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon adopted an emergency rule Thursday that strengthens requirements for employers to safeguard workers from extreme heat, including expanding access to shade and cool water in what advocates called the nation’s most protective heat rules following deadly record-high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest.

“With these new rules, Oregon has a chance to lead the country in ensuring workplaces are safe from high heat, especially for those doing the most demanding and dangerous jobs like farming and construction,” said Kate Suisman, an attorney with the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project.

The emergency rule adopted by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, or Oregon OSHA, also mandates regular cooldown breaks and communication between employees and supervisors so workers can report concerns.

Among the more than 100 people in Oregon who died during the extreme heat wave in late June was an immigrant from Guatemala who was working outside, the state medical examiner said. He was part of a crew at a plant nursery that was moving irrigation lines. Oregon OSHA is investigating both the nursery and the labor contractor.

“Oregon OSHA is taking an important step forward in leading the nation on standards for outdoors workers,” said Reyna Lopez, executive director of the Oregon farmworkers’ union, known by its Spanish acronym as PCUN. “It’s crucial that we continue to take steps toward long-term policy shifts in our state, that take climate change, and workers safety seriously.”

Oregon OSHA said the temporary rule is effective immediately and stays in place for 180 days.

“In the face of an unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest — and tragic consequences — it is absolutely critical that we continue to build up our defenses against the effects of climate change, including extreme heat events,” said Andrew Stolfi, director of the state agency that includes Oregon OSHA.

The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and British Columbia that was worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.

Seattle, Portland and many other cities broke all-time heat records, with temperatures in some places reaching above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).

Oregon has recorded 116 deaths from the heat wave, while Washington state said Thursday that its toll had risen to 78. Authorities say hundreds of deaths may ultimately be attributed to the heat throughout the region.

Amid a historic drought, temperatures are spiking in parts of the U.S. West again this week but are less intense than the earlier heat wave.

Under Oregon’s new rules for workers, when the heat index is at or above 80 F (27 C), employers are required to provide access to sufficient shade and an adequate supply of drinking water.

When the heat index rises above 90 F (32 C), 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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Miss America 2018 Cara Mund poses for photographers on the 86th Floor Observation Deck of th...
Associated Press

Former Miss America Cara Mund plans to run for Congress

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Cara Mund, a former Miss America who gained attention by criticizing the organization near the end of her reign in 2018, plans to run for Congress in North Dakota as an independent. Mund announced her candidacy Saturday and said she would start gathering the 1,000 signatures she needs to get on […]
13 hours ago
Jan Longone, Curator of American Culinary History, holds up a book from the exhibit titled "The Old...
Associated Press

Janice Longone, chronicler of US culinary history, dies

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Janice Bluestein Longone, who is credited with collecting thousands of items chronicling the culinary history of the United States, including cookbooks, menus, advertisements and diaries, has died at age 89. Longone died Wednesday, according to Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor. The cause and location of death weren’t announced. […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Coroner: Smoke inhalation killed at least 5 of 10 in fire

NESCOPECK, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say at least half of the 10 people found dead after an early morning fire in northeastern Pennsylvania died of smoke inhalation. The Luzerne County coroner’s office said autopsies on the victims of the early Friday blaze in Nescopeck began Saturday. Examinations by Dr. Gary Ross were completed on three […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal

VIENNA (AP) — Top negotiators in renewed talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal indicated Sunday that they are optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement to impose limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment. “We stand 5 minutes or 5 seconds from the finish line,” Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters outside Vienna’s Palais […]
13 hours ago
This combination of Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and Hillsb...
Associated Press

Florida prosecutor vows to fight Gov. DeSantis suspension

ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida prosecutor vowed Sunday to fight his suspension from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis over his promise not to enforce the state’s 15-week abortion ban and support for gender transition treatments for minors. Andrew Warren, a Democrat suspended last week from his twice-elected post as state attorney in Hillsborough […]
13 hours ago
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, center, talks with residents that have been displaced by floodwater...
Associated Press

More storms forecasted for flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The National Weather Service extended a flood watch through Sunday evening for areas of eastern Kentucky ravaged by high water more than a week ago and said there’s a threat of thunderstorms in the region for much of the coming week. There’s a “persistent threat of thunderstorms” through Thursday that could […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Oregon adopts most protective heat rules for workers in US