Heat Illness Prevention Plan

Learn how to recognize symptoms and address risks of heat-induced illness; train workers to protect themselves; and respond should a heat illness emergency occur.

Heat illness is a serious medical condition resulting from the body’s inability to cope with a particular heat load and can progress quickly from mild symptoms to a serious and life-threatening illness. A heat-induced illness can occur when the body undergoes stress from overheating. Heat-related illnesses include heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and collapse.

Effective June 15, 2022, the Oregon OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard (OAR 437-002-0156) requires employers to implement measures to prevent heat-related illnesses when the heat index equals or exceeds 80°F in all places of employment. Oregon OSHA has determined that a workplace hazard exists whenever the heat index reaches 80°F (the “caution” level based on NOAA/NWS) and that a more serious hazard exists whenever the heat index exceeds 90°F (the “extreme caution” level based on NOAA/NWS).

Supervisors and their employees covered under this standard are responsible for understanding and complying with Oregon State University’s program and OR-OSHA regulations.

The procedures listed below describe the minimum prevention measures related to heat illness for OSU employees when working within the state of Oregon. Depending on the presence of certain risk factors, greater caution and protective measures beyond what is listed here may be needed to protect employees. For all other locations, supervisors are responsible for developing work-site specific plans to be reviewed with employees prior to commencing work onsite.

The following workplaces and operations are fully exempt from the requirements:

(A) Incidental heat exposures where an employee is not required to perform work activities for more than 15 minutes in any sixty-minute period.

(B) Exposures to heat generated from the work process, such as occurs in bakeries, is not subject to this standard. In such cases, employers must follow the requirements of OAR 437-002-0144(2).

(C) All emergency operations that are directly involved in the protection of life or property, or the restoration of essential services, such as evacuation, rescue, medical, structural firefighting, law enforcement, utilities, and communications.

(D) Buildings and structures that have a mechanical ventilation system that keeps the heat index below 80 degrees F.

The following workplaces and operations are partially exempt from the requirements:

Employees who only perform either rest or light workloads such as office work or driving, are exempt from this rule only when the heat index is less than 90 degrees F.

At OSU, it will be assumed that for buildings without a temperature controlled mechanical cooling system, the inside heat index will be equivalent to the outside heat index. For high humidity environments without mechanical cooling such as in greenhouses, the humidity must be measured to determine the heat index.

Supervisors must monitor the temperatures in advance and throughout the work shift to evaluate the risk level for heat illness by one or more of the following methods:

Temperature and humidity forecasts should be compared to the NWS Heat Index.

Heat index calculator: https://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/heatindex.shtml

Drinking water is required that is suitable to drink and cool (<77°F) must be provided. Plumbed drinking water which is fresh, pure, and suitably cool, is available to campus employees at various campus hydration stations. For employees who do not have access to plumbed drinking water, a supply of 32 ounces of water/hour/person is required.

Supervisors must ensure adequate shade when temperatures reach or exceed 80°F. Adequate shade on campus is readily available on campus via nearby buildings and tree cover.

For extended outdoor work or projects under direct sun such as during field work, supervisors should provide other means of shade such as a tent or canopy (if natural shade is unavailable) to be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working. Shade must be large enough to comfortably accommodate all employees throughout work shift or rest periods.

(a) The shade area must either be open to the outside air (at least three open sides) or provide mechanical ventilation for cooling, such as in a vehicle.

(b) The amount of shade present must be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on recovery or rest period, so that they can sit in a normal posture fully in the shade. Employees must remove any PPE that retains heat, such as chemical resistant suits, during recovery and rest periods.

(c) If trees or other vegetation are used to provide shade, such as in orchards or forests, the thickness and shape of the shaded area must provide sufficient shadow to protect employees.

Employers must implement an acclimatization plan and practices when the ambient heat index exceeds 90°F.  Employees shall be closely monitored by a supervisor or designee during the acclimatization period.

An employee who has been newly assigned to a high-heat area shall be closely observed by a supervisor or designee for the first 14-days of the employee’s employment.

Acclimatization plans must integrate and implement the following factors:

(A) Acclimated and unacclimated workers;

(B) The effects of clothing and personal protective equipment on adding to the heat burden of workers;

(C) The personal and environmental risk factors that put workers at a higher risk of heat-related illness;

(D) Re-acclimatizing workers as necessary, either due to changes in the weather or a worker spending more than seven days away from the job; and (E) The use and maintenance of auxiliary cooling systems such as water-cooled garments, air-cooled garments, cooling vests, and wetted over-garments.

(E) The use and maintenance of auxiliary cooling systems such as water-cooled garments, air-cooled garments, cooling vests, and wetted over-garments.

When the heat index exceeds 90°F, effective and regular communication must be maintained at the work site so that employees can contact a supervisor or emergency services when necessary. A cellphone or other electronic device may be used for this purpose only if reception in the area is reliable.

OSU Heat Illness & Medical Response plan 

Employees experiencing heat illness symptoms must be monitored and shall not be sent home without being offered on-site first aid to reduce body temperature. If there are signs or symptoms of severe heat illness, or heat stroke, the following emergency response procedures must be implemented:

  • Contact emergency medical services by dialing 9-1-1.
  • Tell the dispatcher this is a heat-related illness and provide clear and precise directions to the location.
  • Administer appropriate first aid until medical responders arrive.
  • If not in close proximity to emergency medical services, a two-way radio or equivalent communication method must be provided, knowledge of a location where emergency medical services can be met, and awareness by all employees of those on the field work team that are trained in first aid.
  • Notify your supervisor and report the incident to the OSU Advocate Reporting System.

Employers must implement the following high-heat practices when the ambient heat index exceeds 90°F:

  • Ensure effective communication between an employee and a supervisor is maintained so that an employee can report concerns. 
  • Ensure that employees are observed for alertness and signs and symptoms of heat illness and monitored to determine whether medical attention is necessary.
  • Provide a cool-down rest break in the shade of 10 minutes for every two hours of work when the heat index is 90-94; or 20 minutes every hour (for heat index 95-99); or 30 minutes every hour (for heat index 100-104); or 40 minutes every hour (for heat index 105 or greater). These preventative cool-down rest periods may be provided concurrently with any other meal or rest period required by policy, rule, or law.
  • Develop and implement an emergency medical plan and practices to gradually adapt employees to working in the heat.

Training shall be provided annually to all employees and before performing work that could expose them to risk of heat illness under this rule.

Complete the Heat Stress training module.