Landscaping, construction, and agriculture are some of the outdoor jobs that can expose workers to dangerous high heat. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating and may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers to learn the signs of heat illness and take precautions. A person overcome with heat exhaustion will still sweat, but may experience extreme fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, or a headache. The person could have clammy and moist skin, a pale complexion, and a normal or only slightly elevated body temperature. If heat exhaustion is not treated promptly, the illness could progress to heat stroke, and possibly even death.
"Water, rest, and shade are the three things to remember," said Penny Wolf-McCormick, health enforcement manager for Oregon OSHA. "Employers should ensure workers are taking water breaks throughout the day and provide shade to give their body time to recover."
From 2009 through 2013, 33 people received benefits through Oregon's workers' compensation system for heat-related illnesses.
"Many Oregon workers aren't used to this type of heat and may need time to acclimate," Wolf-McCormick said.
To help those suffering from heat exhaustion:
Certain medications, wearing personal protective equipment while on the job, and a past case of heat stress create a higher risk for heat illness.
Heat stroke is a more severe condition than heat exhaustion and can result in death. Immediately call for emergency help if you think the person is suffering from heat stroke.
Here are some tips for preventing a heat-related illness:
Employers can calculate the heat index for their worksite with the federal OSHA heat stress app for mobile phones.
A number of other tools are available on the federal OSHA website.
Oregon OSHA published proposed amendments to its confined space rule (OAR 437-002-0146) to clarify employer obligations and eliminate confusing requirements.
The rule was adopted in 2012 to address confined space hazards for the construction industry, as the previous rule, OAR 437-002-1910.146, did not apply to the construction industry. However, in September 2013, Oregon OSHA received questions about certain provisions of the rule and their effects on the industry. Oregon OSHA concluded there was enough substance to those concerns to justify reconvening a stakeholder group to address them. Language clarifications, definitions, and rule exceptions are part of the proposed changes that would take effect Jan. 1, 2015.
Oregon OSHA will accept comments on the proposed changes at a public hearing Aug. 25, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Portland General Electric, 4245 Kale St. NE in Salem. For more information, read the notice. ▉
Grant funding is available to develop innovative workplace safety and health training programs. Oregon OSHA will sponsor projects that may range from a unique mobile app to an online educational game that engages workers.
The grants will focus on programs that target an Oregon industry or a specific work process to reduce or eliminate hazards. Any employer or labor consortium, association, educational institution affiliated with a labor group, or other nonprofit organization may apply. Applicants may apply for up to $40,000 per grant project without a requirement for any matching dollars or in-kind contributions. Grant applications are due Oct. 9, 2014.
Some examples of past grant projects include:
The Oregon State Legislative Assembly established the grant program in 1990,. Employers cannot use the program to fund training projects for their employees.
Grant application information is available on our website. ▉
The Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference returns in 2015 to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. The event, scheduled for March 9-12, is the largest conference of its kind in the Northwest and will feature speakers from across the country.
Sponsors such as SAIF Corporation, Liberty Mutual, the Portland Business Journal, and Hoffman Construction, have already signed on to support the event. Tony Howard, safety director at Hoffman Construction, which has been a sponsor for many years, finds the event valuable.
"We make it a point to send a number of our superintendents and engineers because of the high-quality training available," Howard said. "This is an excellent venue for our safety staff to build relationships with other professionals in the industry and stay abreast of the latest regulatory changes. Everyone benefits from seeing the latest safety technology offered throughout the exhibit hall."
GOSH award nominations are also being accepted to honor organizations and individuals who make extraordinary contributions to workplace safety and health. Applications are due Oct. 1, 2014, and are available at oregongosh.com/awards. ▉
Boise Cascade Company, Pilot Rock
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For general information, technical answers, or information about Oregon OSHA services, please call 503-378-3272 or toll-free within Oregon, 800-922-2689.