New OSHA rules in place to protect outdoor workers during extreme heat

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:21 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - For some working outside during the heat wave, the high temperatures can be a deadly situation. The Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration adopted some new rules this year to protect workers. 

The new rules come after a farmworker in St. Paul died on the job last summer from a heat-related illness. The rules are some of the strongest in the country when it comes to protecting workers from the heat. However, implementing the rules is proving to be difficult.

The rules require that employers take safety steps including providing farmworkers with shade, cool drinking water, and increased paid breaks when temperatures climb to 80 and 90 degrees. When temperatures get into the 90′s employers are also required to implement a buddy system and increase communication with their employees to ensure their safety.

Many farmworkers this year are still experiencing heat-related symptoms. They say the rules are often not followed and that farmworkers feel pressured into working without additional breaks.

After the death of a co-worker last year, many farmworkers say they are worried about the extreme conditions and are checking in on their friends and co-workers as often as they can to make sure what happened last year doesn’t happen again.