In effect: Oregon OSHA emphasis program on preventing heat-related illness
Salem, OR — Extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer has spurred Oregon OSHA to launch a Local Emphasis Program aimed at preventing heat-related illness.
In effect since July 15, the LEP was launched a week after the agency adopted an emergency rule that strengthens employer requirements for protecting workers from the effects of high and extreme heat. The rule is slated to remain in effect until Jan. 3 “unless replaced sooner (as expected) by a rule adopted through the regular rulemaking process,” according to the program directive.
“On June 28, Portland International Airport reached 116° F, and other parts of the state were even hotter,” the directive states. “This extreme hot weather may happen again, and it has made it necessary to enact protections to ensure the health and safety of workers.”
The LEP directs agency inspection efforts to be concentrated on indoor and outdoor workplaces where employees are exposed to a heat index of at least 80° F. Employers can expect their plans on addressing heat exposure and preventing heat-related illness to be reviewed. Inspectors are instructed to document other factors, such as the use of personal protective equipment, when they contribute to the hazard. Other standards that may apply to employers’ responsibilities to mitigate hazards include training on PPE use, water and sanitation requirements, medical services and first aid requirements, and recordkeeping requirements.
Since 2017, Oregon OSHA – which operates under federal OSHA’s State Plan program – has focused on heat-related illnesses during all inspections conducted between June 15 and Oct. 1.