News for Small Business - April 21, 2006

Special Edition

L&I to protect outdoor workers from heat stress with change in current rule, education campaign

L&I is working with business and labor to make heat stress a regular topic this summer on job sites throughout the state.

Intense discussions on the need for an outdoor-heat-stress rule began last year after an agriculture worker died from heat stroke. Knowing that its heat exposure rule didn’t apply to outdoor workers, L&I launched eight months of talks with business and labor groups to find a workable approach for addressing this hazard.

The result is an emergency rule change that provides protection for outdoor workers exposed to hot weather. The emergency rule modifies an existing rule, and will be backed by a heat-stress information awareness and education campaign starting next month.

What will the modified rule require? By June 1, current requirements that protect workers from heat stress in high-heat indoor work environments will be modified to protect affected outdoor workers as well. This summer, employers are expected to take the following actions:

  • Evaluate their outdoor workplaces to determine if their employees will be at risk from heat-related illness during hot weather.
  • Ensure they have and follow an appropriate safety plan that recognizes heat-stress hazards and includes training that teaches employees to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and to know what to do if they or a co-worker show those symptoms.
  • Follow the same rules employers already are required to follow for first-aid training, safety programs and supplying sufficient drinking water.

To help employers and their workers understand the risk of heat-related illness, L&I will launch a heat-stress awareness campaign in coordination with business and labor organizations. That effort starts May 1.

“Employers, employees and L&I all want the same thing — a safe workplace. We think it’s important to have this rule change and education effort in place for this summer,” said Steve Cant, assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health at L&I. “We looked at the possibility of a more detailed new rule, but after fully reviewing our existing rules and all the input from business, labor and worker advocates, we concluded that the best approach was to ensure we have effective enforcement tools for worker protection at the least burden and expense to those we regulate.”

For more information on preventing heat-related illness, please see:

Small Business Contact at L&I:

Ron Langley
Small Business Liaison
Phone: 360-902-4205
Fax: 360-902-5420

Want to subscribe to L&I News for Small Business? Contact Ron via the contact information listed above.

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