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Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries Proposes Changes to Permanent Heat Illness Prevention Rules for Outdoor Workers

In 2022, Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) drafted permanent workplace safety rules aimed at protecting workers from outdoor heat exposure. On March 21, 2023, L&I filed proposed updates to the rule that would broaden the protections for outdoor workers in Washington. This continued evolution of heat illness regulations in Washington is an important development for employers with outdoor workers.

Important proposed changes are summarized below.

WAC 296-62-09510 and 296-307-09710: Outdoor heat exposure

Expand temporal scope of rule from seasonal (May–September) to year-round applicability.

WAC 296-62-09520 and 296-307-09720: Definitions

Broaden, add, remove, or clarify definitions of key terms in the existing rule, including:


“Buddy system”
“Double-layer woven clothing”
“Drinking water”
“Engineering controls”
“Environmental factors for heat-related illness”
“Outdoor environment”
“Risk factors for heat-related illness”
“Vapor barrier clothing”

WAC 296-62-09530 and 296-307-09730: Employer and employee responsibility

Update requirements for the Outdoor Heat Exposure Safety Plan and guidance regarding “preventative cool-down rest periods” and personal protective equipment (PPE).

WAC 296-62-09535 and 296-307-09735: Access to shade

Require employers to provide one or more shaded areas “large enough to accommodate all employees during a meal or rest period.”

WAC 296-62-09545 and 296-307-09745: Acclimatization

Require up to a 14-day observation period for newly assigned employees.

WAC 296-62-09547 and 296-307-09747: High heat procedures

Require rest periods when temperatures exceed high heat temperatures and “to closely observe employees for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness” when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

WAC 296-62-09550 and 296-307-09750: Responding to signs and symptoms of heat-related illness

Ensure effective communication between supervisors and employees.

WAC 296-62-09560 and 296-307-09760: Information and training

Require “effective” training to employees prior to outdoor work “when occupational exposure to heat might occur” with expanded training requirements regarding personal factors, environmental factors, and work conditions that may contribute to heat-related illness.

L&I will hold five in-person public hearings before the “intended adoption” in June 2023. Public comment will be accepted through May 11, 2023.

© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 89

About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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Kathryn P. Fletcher Attorney Litigation Employment Ogletree Deakins Seattle
Of Counsel

Ms. Fletcher represents employers in all aspects of employment claims and litigation in federal and state courts, at arbitration, mediation, and before administrative agencies, including matters involving wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, disability and religious accommodation, retaliation, wage and hour, and breach of contract claims. She has successfully defended cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Ms. Fletcher advises employers on personnel...

Emma A. Healey Attorney Litigation Ogletree Deakins Seattle

Emma received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington. She went on to graduate with honors from the University of Washington School of Law. During law school, Emma worked as a law clerk for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and as a judicial extern at the United States District Court in Seattle, Washington for the Honorable John C. Coughenour. Emma was the Executive Online Editor for the Washington Law Review and served as a Hazelton Research Fellow.