Following a record-breaking heat wave, Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries issued an emergency heat exposure rule on July 9 to provide increased protection to farmworkers and other outdoor workers.

The regulation comes two days after Oregon OSHA implemented a similar measure in response to the extreme temperatures and a week after United Farm Workers urged Gov. Jay Inslee to implement emergency protections.

"Our state has rules in place to ensure these risks are mitigated, however, the real impacts of climate change have changed conditions since those rules were first written and we are responding,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Washington’s new regulations, which apply when temperatures are at or over 100 degrees, require employers to ensure workers have a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours and to provide shade for workers to cool down.

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The rule became effective July 13 and is in addition to Washington’s heat exposure rules that are in place annually from May to September.

The existing rules require employers to provide cool drinking water, encourage paid cool-down rest, prepare heat-exposure training programs, and respond to symptoms of heat-related illness.

The department said it will file an official notification for making the emergency heat exposure rule permanent and will take public input in the rulemaking process.

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