Dear clients and friends:
You may have seen that Oregon-OSHA recently adopted permanent rules for heat-related illness prevention, effective today (June 15, 2022). Read below for answers to some of the most common questions I’ve received:

Question: Does this rule apply to me even if I’m not in agriculture?

Answer: Yes, it generally applies to all employers unless:

  • Your employees work in a building that has a ‘mechanical ventilation’ system which keeps the heat index below 80 degrees Fahrenheit (such as AC);
  • Your employees are exposed to heat short term, or heat generated from work (like baking); or
  • Your employees are conducting emergency operations like evacuation, rescue, medical, structural firefighting.

Question: What does this rule require of me?   

Answer: When your employees are working inside or outside in conditions where the heat index* reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you must provide:

  • Shade that is:
    • open to the air (or has mechanical ventilation for cooling);
    • located close to where employees are working; and
    • large enough to accommodate your employees on break.
  • Drinking water that is:
    • cool/cold (anywhere from 77 – 35 degrees Fahrenheit);
    • at least 32oz per hour; and
    • not entirely replaced by electrolyte-replenishing drinks. 

When the heat index reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you must add to the above:

  • Develop and implement a rest break schedule that gives employees 10 minutes of shaded rest every two hours (and 15 minutes if the heat index increases to 100 degrees) or:
    • Increases by 10 minutes as the heat index increases by 5 degrees; or
      • Complies with the NIOSH Schedule in Section 3 of Appendix A
  • Maintain effective communication (voice, observation or electronic means) so employees can contact a supervisor if needed (cell phones only if there is reliable reception).
  • Monitor for signs of heat illness by regular communication, a buddy system and/or other ways to observe and communicate; and
  • Designate someone on site who will place the emergency call for services.

Question: What else do I have to do?


  • Implement a written heat illness prevention plan that covers training, the requirements of shade, cold water, rest breaks, acclimatization and recognizing hazards of heat illness;
  • Ensure your Emergency Medical Plan complies with excessive heat issues;
  • Train your employees and supervisors:
    • In a language they understand
    • Before they begin work at sites where the rule applies
    • On the following topics:
      • The signs and symptoms of the main categories of heat-related illnesses
      • Risk factors for heat illness (environmental, personal, etc)
      • How to comply with this rule
      • How to adapt to work in a hot climate
      • The importance of drinking small quantities of water frequently
      • Immediate reporting of symptoms/signs of heat illness
      • Effect of non-job factors like alcohol consumption
  • Develop, write and implement acclimatization practices which will allow your employees to adapt gradually to places where the heat index exceeds 90 degrees.

Question: Where can I find more information?

Answer: Start at or give me a call to talk.

* Keep in mind that the ‘heat index’ is not just what the thermometer reads. It’s actually what the temperature feels like to the human body under the combined air temperature and relative humidity. So keep a tab opened to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, which publishes the heat index for each part of the country.

It goes without saying but is worth repeating – employers cannot retaliate against an employee for any employee who makes a complaint to anyone (a supervisor, colleague, the government…) about a health or safety concern or violation in the workplace because that activity is protected.

Stay tuned for next week’s recap of Oregon’s final rule on wildfire smoke exposure.

~ Abby