Oregon workplace regulators have enacted permanent rules to protect laborers from excessive heat and wildfire smoke that take effect June 15 and July 1, respectively.

The regulations are “the most protective of their kind in the United States,” according to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which enacted them in mid-May.

The heat rule applies to any workspace, outdoors or indoors, where the heat index is 80 degrees or higher. The rule mandates employers provide shade areas, drinking water and an opportunity to drink it, a plan to allow workers to gradually acclimatize to the heat and a heat illness prevention plan communicated through consistent messaging and trainings for supervisors and employees. The regulations also require a cooling rest-break schedule when temperatures are 90 or above.

The wildfire rules make employers monitor worker exposure levels at the start of each shift, provide annual training, keep exposure to lower than a 101 Air Quality Index by moving employees if needed, provide N 95 or equivalent masks for voluntary use at a 101 index or higher and enforce the use of those masks for a 251 index or higher.

For more details about the rules, visit osha.oregon.gov/news/2022/Pages/nr2022-11.aspx

—by Ross Courtney