After the record breaking heatwave in late June and the fact that there’s still a lot of summer left here in the Pacific Northwest, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries' has implemented emergency rules the agency said will help protect farm workers in extreme heat. New regulations are set under two conditions: when the temperature is at or above 89 degrees, and when temperatures are at or above 100 degrees.

Washington Farm Bureau Safety Director Dominique Damian said the new emergency rules for when temperatures are 89 degrees or above didn't change much from what was already in place.

"So what farmers have done in the past is adjust things like work schedules to cooler parts of the day. [They were] already on top of providing extra water and taking more rest breaks."

Under the new emergency standards, when the mercury hits 100 degrees Fahrenheit employers must respond to the extreme heat by providing shade for employees to cool down and ensure workers have a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours. According to Damian, the state did not reach out to the Farm Bureau or any other agricultural organization to see what was already being done. She adds that farmers were not given sufficient time to even know the rules might be changing. The regulations, she noted, mean even more administrative responsibilities for growers.

"If you're not already paying attention do so, so that you're not caught when an inspector shows up and you didn't know of any rule change."

L&I said that in the coming months it will gather information from stakeholders in order to draft an updated, permanent Outdoor Heat Exposure rule.​

If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail gvaagen@cherrycreekmedia.com

More From PNW Ag Network