Protect Workers From Heat and Smoke: In extremely smoky situations, companies are required to supply their employees with respirator masks. In intense heat, businesses are required to give their employees water and shade breaks. The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, also known as Oregon OSHA, was tasked with drafting the regulations after Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order in the year 2020. The enforcement of the rules is also the responsibility of Oregon OSHA.
Oregon Regulations Protect Workers From Heat and Smoke
The Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc., and the Oregon Forest Industries Council were the three industry groups who challenged OSHA’s power to enforce the heat limits shortly after they went into effect this summer.
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In a lawsuit that was submitted to the United States District Court in Medford, the organizations claimed that the heat and smoke rules were both too restrictive and not specific enough to each industry. Specifically, they asserted that it was illogical to apply certain regulations that were designed to protect farmers from loggers.
A lawsuit attempting to block enforcement of new worker protections in extreme heat and smoke events has been dismissed by a federal court.https://t.co/ENnjqTDuFI
— Oregon Capital Chronicle (@ORCapChronicle) December 22, 2022
They asserted that as a result of this, it would be impossible for Oregon OSHA to enforce the standards and that by doing so, the requirements violated the 14th Amendment rights of employers under the Constitution of the United States.
Groups advocating for workers’ rights and environmental justice stated that the regulations are essential to ensuring people’s safety.
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Many farmworkers had to pick crops while breathing in dangerous levels of smoke during the wildfires that occurred over the Labor Day weekend in 2020, and in 2021, excessive heat was the cause of death for an Oregon farmworker. Judge Mark Clarke, who presided over the hearing on Tuesday, refuted the industry organizations’ allegations that the rules violated the Constitution because they were too ambiguous to be effectively policed.
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