Outdoor worker protections in effect


Updated 8/1/22

Washington state outdoor heat exposure and wildfire smoke rules are in effect through September 29, 2022, and may apply to University departments and units with personnel performing work in an outdoor environment.

The outdoor heat exposure rules apply to personnel performing work in an outdoor environment for more than 15 minutes in any 60-minute period when the outdoor temperature reaches an action level (52, 77 and 89 degrees F) depending on the type of material worn. University units with personnel who work outdoors must plan, prepare, and train for heat-related illness.

When temperatures reach 89 degrees F or higher, the emergency rule requires:

  • Enough cool water is available so that each worker drinks at least a quart (about one liter) every hour; and
  • Enough shade is available to fully cover workers during a break, or employers can use alternatives to shade like an air-conditioned break area; and
  • Workers are encouraged and allowed to take paid cool-down breaks when they start to feel overheated and paid mandatory 10-minute breaks every 2 hours to cool down; and
  • Observation and communication methods are in place to detect and respond to signs or symptoms of heat illness.

Visit the Outdoor Heat Exposure webpage for links to resources, training and more information.

The wildfire smoke emergency rule protects workers who are exposed to wildfire smoke on the job. The emergency rule provides protection for personnel working outdoors for more than one hour who may be reasonably expected to be exposed to wildfire smoke. University units must take action to protect personnel when Air Quality Index reaches 69 and 101. Refer to the Wildfire Smoke webpage for links to resources, training and more information.

Contact the EH&S Air Quality team at airquality@uw.edu or 206.543.7388 with questions. 

many factors increase the risk of heat-related illness
Read about heat-related illness risk factors at www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/UserFiles/works/pdfs/2017-125.pdf