Heat & Wildfire Smoke
With the summer heat and wildfire season still in full swing we wanted to remind all our Washington employers about the new Washington State employers seasonal workplace safety rules regarding wildfire smoke and outdoor heat exposure. Outdoor Heat Exposure (Emergency Rules, Effective June 15, 2022 through September 29, 2022) Recently added rules include:
ensuring a sufficient quantity of suitably cool drinking water is readily accessible to employees at all times;
providing access to shade or comparable opportunities to reduce body temperature, which could include air-conditioned spaces or vehicles;
educating workers about the importance of preventative cool-down periods to protect against overheating, and paying employees during those preventative periods;
mandating paid cool-down rest periods of 10 minutes every two hours when the temperature is 89 degrees Fahrenheit or higher;
implementing a system by which employees can communicate with their supervisor when necessary (e.g., cell phones in areas with reliable service);
closely observing employees for signs of heat-related illness;
training employees about the requirements under the emergency rule.
For more information on these rules click the link below.
Wildfire Smoke (Emergency Rules, Effective June 15, 2022 through September 29, 2022) Employers are required to monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) and take specific action when workers are exposed to levels of 69 or higher. Additional requirements are imposed when the AQI measures from 101 and 500, and higher than 500. Recently added rules include:
monitor worksite AQI;
establish hazard communication systems with employees;
maintain wildfire smoke response plans tailored to their specific workplaces within their written accident prevention programs;
provide specific information and implement training programs for employees and supervisors;
monitor employees for symptoms of exposure;
ensure prompt medical treatment when necessary.
Employers may be required to provide respiratory protection to employees free of charge when certain AQI levels are observed. For more information click the link provided below: https://lni.wa.gov/rulemaking-activity/AO22-21/2221CR103EAdoption.pdf Feel free to contact us with any questions or symptoms regarding heat or wildfire smoke exposure. We are here to help keep you and your employees safe and healthy.