New rules going into effect in Oregon in June and July are expected to protect tens of thousands of workers from illness and death when temperatures soar past 80 or when the air becomes clogged with wildfire smoke.

The heat protections require employers to allow workers to take paid breaks to get relief from the heat, provide access to shade areas outdoors and an adequate supply of drinking water, have a heat illness prevention plan and to gradually introduce workers to high temperatures.

These state rules will go into effect June 15.

The smoke rules, which take effect July 1, require employers to provide N95 masks to protect workers when the air quality worsens and make the masks mandatory when the air becomes dangerous to breathe. Employers also have to provide medical checks.

The rules stem in part from an executive order by Gov. Kate Brown in March 2020 to mitigate the effects of climate change. She welcomed the rules in a statement on Tuesday.

“As we enter what we expect will be another hot and dry summer, all workers, including Oregon’s hard-working agricultural and farmworkers, deserve health and safety protections from extreme heat and wildfire smoke,” Brown said. “With these new rules from Oregon OSHA, I am proud that Oregon will be a national model for heat and wildfire smoke protections for all workers, regardless of income-level, occupation, or immigration status.” 05-12-22

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