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Outdoor workers in Washington state will soon benefit from revised heat protections

Updated rules take effect July 17

Posted July 7, 2023

Recently, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) took steps to update workplace heat rules by expanding existing requirements to ensure worker safety.

Because of the changing climate, L&I has updated the state’s heat rules to ensure workers are protected from the dangers of working in high temperatures. L&I Director Joel Sacks said, “Excessive heat is a real concern when it comes to worker safety. Heat-related illness can strike quickly, and in some cases, be deadly.”

Under the updated rules employers must:

  • Provide shade,
  • Allow cool-down periods, and
  • Closely monitor all workers for signs of heat stress.

“Outdoor workers can suffer serious health effects from the summer heat, but with water, shade, and rest among other protections, employers and workers can prevent the worst effects of heat exposure and reduce traumatic injuries,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

In addition to these new rules, employers must update their outdoor heat exposure safety programs and ensure workers and supervisors receive adequate training on the plan and are familiar with any new requirements.

This article was written by Carmen King of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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