Washington: Protection from Heat Exposure and Wildfire Smoke
All Employers with WA Employees
June 15, 2022
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The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries enacted emergency rules and amendments to protect outdoor workers from heat exposure and wildfire smoke.
Outdoor Heat Exposure
In addition to the existing rules for heat exposure, employers must now also:
- Provide a sufficient and accessible amount of cool drinking water.
- Provide access to shade or other opportunities to reduce body temperature.
- Educate employees about preventative cool-down periods.
- Provide training to employees about the requirements of the emergency rule.
- When the temperature is 89 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, employers must: (1) mandate paid cool-down rest periods of 10 minutes every 2 hours; (2) create the ability for employees to communicate with their supervisor; and (3) observe employees for heat-related illness.
Employers should note these requirements are in addition to already enacted heat exposure rules. These amendments as well as the original requirements should be reviewed for compliance.
According to the rules, employers must monitor the worksite Air Quality Index (AQI). In the event the AQI is 69 or higher, employers must:
- Have a written wildfire smoke response plan.
- Determine employee smoke exposure levels before work and while smoke is present.
- Train employees on wildfire smoke hazards.
- Train supervisors on how to respond to health issues.
- Inform employees of any available protective measures.
In the event the AQI is 101 or higher, employers must additionally:
- Alert employees of smoke levels.
- Provide respirators and encourage use.
- Limit employee exposure where possible.
- Review the new standards for heat and wildfire smoke.
- Review worksites for potential high heat and wildfire smoke working conditions.
- Develop and implement written plans and protective measures.
- Implement procedures for providing cool drinking water, access to shade, and respirators.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on requirements.
- Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.
Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase