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New Oregon OSHA heat safety rule in effect

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Employers across the state are putting Oregon OSHA's new heat safety rule into effect as temperatures climb.

The rule went into effect June 15 and requires employers provide employees with access to shade, rest breaks, and drinking water. The rules also require employers to put a heat illness prevention plan into place.

"I think it's great," said Cameron Jones, the owner of PNW Landscapes. "We've kind of already put that stuff into effect already for our business, but just making sure these guys get what they need in terms of breaks and water."

He's owned the landscaping company for five years now, has seen several hot days during that time, and advises others working outside for long stretches of time to stay hydrated.

"Staying in the shade when we can, just making sure we get plenty of breaks, lots of water. Just doing the best we can," Jones said.

Oregon OSHA released new resources earlier in the year to help employers stay in compliance with the new rules. Those include an online course about heat illness prevention, a fact sheet about the key requirements of the new rules, and another fact sheet outlining a proper rest break schedule to prevent heat illness.

The new rules are similar to temporary ones adopted after last summer's deadly, record-breaking heat.

According to Oregon OSHA, an estimated 71 inspections related to "ambient" heat were opened before the temporary rules went into effect last year. Another 214 inspections ensued after the temporary rule was adopted.

"Of the 285 inspections, about 13% were in agriculture, nearly 3% were in logging, and an estimated 45% were in construction," a spokesperson for Oregon OSHA said in an email. "Of the estimated 196 inspections that showed violations, approximately 12 had violations related to heat."

Kaminski Construction in Eugene is not one of the workplaces where an inspection occurred. Safety officer Lori Fronckowiak says they take heat safety very seriously there. She outlined some of the heat-related challenges those working in the industry face.

"You have a lot of gear that you have to wear, so the breaks help to relieve that gear a little bit," Fronckowiak said. "Because sometimes they have fall protection, so that all is heavy and makes you sweat a lot more."

She said the crew had a meeting about heat safety Wednesday morning.

"We reiterated that you have to acclimatize yourself, so slowly work up to the heat, take more breaks, drink water on a schedule, eat small frequent meals so that you're not overloaded with carbs and things like that, limit your sugar and caffeine," Fronckowiak said. "Stay out of the direct sunlight as much as you can. A lot of times there's shade because they're working next to buildings, but if there's not, we have little pop-up tents for them."

She also said the company is working to get cooling towels for their crew.

New Oregon OSHA heat safety rule in effect

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