Employers in Washington must monitor temperature and air quality, take steps to protect workers from heat and smoke hazards, and provide training and information from June 15 through the end of September.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industry on Wednesday filed emergency rules for outdoor heat exposure and wildfire smoke to protect farm and construction workers, roofers, road crews and anyone else whose work keeps them outside. The order is intended to help ensure the safety of workers this summer.
L&I continues to develop permanent rules to address the serious hazards posed by extreme heat and smoke from wildfires.
When temperatures are at or above 89 degrees, the emergency heat rules, combined with the existing rules, require employers to:
- Provide enough cool water for each employee to drink at least a liter per hour;
- Provide adequate shade large enough for and close enough to workers;
- Encourage and allow workers to take paid preventive cool-down breaks when necessary; and,
- Require a 10-minute paid cool-down break every two hours.
Existing regulations already require immediate access to at least one liter of potable water per worker per hour, an outdoor heat safety program with training, and an appropriate response to workers who develop symptoms of heat-related illness.
The temperature at which the demands occur can be even lower depending on the type of clothing workers are wearing. Employers can substitute shade with other means of lowering body temperature, such as B. an air-conditioned caravan or a fog station.
Employers must monitor temperatures and have a system in place such as B. A mandatory buddy rule, regular check-in by phone or radio, or other methods to detect signs of heat-related illness. If there are signs of illness, employers have a duty to take workers off-duty, provide them with shade or other means of cooling, and determine whether additional medical care is needed.
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