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New permanent heat rules now in effect for Washington state outdoor workers

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(The Center Square) – After two years of temporary emergency rules, new permanent year-round heat rules for outdoor workers are in effect as of Monday, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

The new rules, which do not apply to firefighters and other emergency response personnel, require employers to provide cool water and shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.

Other requirements for workers include paid rest breaks as needed, as well as giving new or returning workers – those out for up to two weeks – time to get used to heat and having other workers keep an eye on them in hot weather conditions.

Temperatures over 90 degrees would require paid rest breaks for 10 minutes every two hours.

If the mercury rises above 100 degrees, workers will be required to take breaks every 15 minutes of every hour.

Per the new rules, employers must also update their outdoor heat exposure safety program and train workers and supervisors on the plan and the new requirements.

“Excessive heat is a real concern when it comes to worker safety. Heat-related illness can strike quickly, and in some cases, be deadly,” said L & I Director Joel Sacks in a news release last month. “Our climate is changing, and these updates to our state heat rules are a major step forward in protecting workers.”

Read the permanent rule language here.

L & I proposed new permanent wildfire smoke protection rules for outdoor workers in May.

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