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Washington state is latest to pass heat rules for workers

Washington state is latest to pass heat rules for workers

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington state on Friday became the second state in the Pacific Northwest in as many days to announce emergency rules that provide farmworkers and others who work outdoors more protection from hot weather in the wake of an extreme heat wave that is believed to have killed hundreds of people.
The announcement comes a day after Oregon approved what advocates call the nation’s most protective emergency heat rules for workers and as temperatures are spiking again this week in parts of the U.S. West, though not as severely as the end of June. The heat is making it difficult to fight wildfires in parts of a region struggling with a historic drought tied to climate change.
“The heat experienced in our state this year has reached catastrophic levels,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The physical risk to individuals is significant, in particular those whose occupations have them outdoors all day.”
Washington’s new rules take effect Tuesday and update existing mandates that are in place from May through September, when the state’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry relies on tens of thousands of farmworkers to tend and harvest crops such as apples, cherries, hops and asparagus.
Under the emergency rules, when the temperature is at or above 100 F (38 C), employers must provide shade or another way for employees to cool down and ensure a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours.
The state already required employers to provide every outdoor worker with at least a quart of drinking water per hour, offer safety training on outdoor heat exposure and respond to any employee with symptoms of heat-related illness. A new requirement is that the water must be cool.
The scramble to protect workers follows a heat wave that hit the…
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