Oregon OSHA adopts permanent heat and wildfire smoke rules
Everything you need to know about the changes.
Earlier this month, Oregon OSHA published two new permanent rules: one on excessive heat safety and the other on wildfire smoke.
The heat rule will take effect June 15, while the wildfire smoke rules take effect on July 1. These replace temporary emergency requirements issued last year; we’ve outlined the difference below.
SAIF will offer two free webinars in June about what these rules include and what it means for your business. Register today:
- Prepare for wildfire smoke: Oregon OSHA’s rule on protection from wildfire smoke | Thursday, June 16 from 10 to 11 a.m.
- The heat is on: Oregon OSHA’s rule on heat illness prevention | Tuesday, June 21 from 10 to 11 a.m.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about each rule and how they differ from temporary emergency requirements adopted last year. This is not a comprehensive list, so please reach out to your safety management consultant or email@example.com if you have any questions.
- Heat index: Similar to the temporary emergency requirement, the permanent rule applies to all employers when the heat index equals or exceeds 80 degrees.
- Measurements: There have been new additions to high heat practices. This includes a requirement that employers directly measure temperature and relative humidity in buildings without mechanical ventilation systems.
- Break schedule: Employers must develop a written heat illness prevention rest break schedule when the heat index equals or exceeds 90 degrees.
- Written plans: Employers must also develop a written heat illness prevention plan and a written acclimatization plan. The mandatory appendix outlines workload definitions on rest breaks and acclimatization.
- Training: Information and training must be provided to new employees and annually to supervisors and non-supervisory employees who may be exposed to the risk of heat-related illness.
- Air quality index: The rule applies to all employers whose employees are or will be exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is at or above 35.5 µg/m3 (Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 101 for PM2.5). The rule’s mandatory appendix outlines the required use of NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirators, depending on the AQI.
- Exemptions: Employees working from home are exempt. There are also exemptions for buildings with mechanical ventilation; vehicles with properly maintained cabin filtration systems; and employers who suspend operations to prevent employee exposure to wildfire smoke at 35.5 µg/m3 (AQI value of 101 for PM2.5).
- Exposure assessment: Employers must perform an exposure assessment at the start of each shift, and as often as needed to determine actions needed for two-way communication and exposure controls when PM2.5 is at or above 35.5 µg/m3 (AQI 101). The rule provides ways to check or measure AQI.
- Training: Information and training must be provided annually and must include potential acute and chronic health effects from wildfire smoke exposure.
- Planning: Your emergency medical plan must address conditions relating to wildfire smoke exposure.