Both California and Washington released new safety requirements due to the excessive heat this summer throughout the western United States. Oregon issued a temporary rule regarding the use of sick time in the event of a public health emergency.



Washington Department of Labor and Industries issued emergency rules effective July 13, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

If the temperature is above 89° F, outdoor workers:

  • Shall be allowed and encouraged to take a preventative cool-down rest when they feel the need to do so to protect themselves from overheating using the means to reduce body temperature. Preventative cool-down rest time must be paid unless taken during a meal period.
  • Be provided water that is cool enough to drink safely

In addition, if the temperature is above 100° F, outdoor workers:

  • Must have a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours.
  • Employers shall always have and maintain one or more areas with shade while employees are present. This area must either be open to the air or provide ventilation or cooling. The amount of shade present shall be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on a meal or rest period. The shade shall be located as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working.


The California Department of Industrial Relations issued new rules for agriculture, construction, and landscaping regarding access to breaks for water and shade in times of excessive heat.

If the temperature equals or exceeds 95° F, outdoors workers must:

  • Have paid pre-shift meetings on the identification of heat illnesses
  • Always have access to shade and water as close as practical to the area employees are working
  • Have one or more employees designated and available to call for emergency services
  • Be closely observed by a supervisor or designee for the first 14 days of employment if the employee is newly assigned to high-heat areas
  • Agriculture employees must take a minimum ten-minute net preventative cool-down rest every two hours and an additional ten-minute cool-down rest at end of the 8th and 10th hour of work.

Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released a temporary administrative order regarding use of using accrued sick time during a public health emergency. This rule is effective July 22, 2021 through January 17, 2022.

When the heat index is equal to or above 80° F, employers are required to provide:

  • Access to sufficient shade either open to the air or provide mechanical ventilation for cooling
  • 32 ounces of drinking water per hour is accessible to employees at all times and at no cost, and cool enough to drink

When the heat index rises above 90° F, all of the rules for 80 degrees apply, and employers must:

  • 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.
  • Develop and implement an emergency medical plan and practices to gradually adapt employees to working in the heat.
  • Provide a cool-down rest period in the shade of 10 minutes for every two hours of work. These preventative cool-down rest periods may be provided concurrently with any other meal or rest period required by policy, rule, or law.

In addition, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released a temporary administrative order regarding the use of using accrued sick time during a public health emergency.  This rule is effective July 22, 2021 through January 17, 2022.

Wildfires have ravaged much of Eastern Oregon.  The Bootleg Fire alone has engulfed over 400,000 acres.  This affects the air quality and heat index exposure in the area, and in some instances, creating its own weather.

Because of this, eligible employees may take covered leave for absences connected to an emergency evacuation order of level 2 or 3 issued by a public official with the authority to do so if the affected area includes either the location of their employer’s place of business or the employee’s home address.  This includes changes in the air quality index or heat index at a level where continued exposure to such levels would jeopardize the employee’s health.

How we can help

If you need help properly accounting for breaks, please contact Time Equipment Company at or 800-997-8463.

*This information simplifies complex Acts as it is understood by Time Equipment Company. It is not to be taken as legal advice. The regulations for this program are changing. For further information contact your state or local Department of Labor.