Heat illness prevention for outdoor workers


Updated May 30, 2024

As summer approaches and temperatures begin to rise, it's important to take measures to keep outdoor workers healthy and prevent heat-related illness.

University units with personnel who work outdoors are required to implement safety measures to help prevent heat-related illness, including providing initial and annual training, and implementing a written Outdoor Heat Safety Plan.road sign reads "heatstroke"

The Washington state heat rules require University units to provide the following actions when the temperature is at or above 80 degrees:

  • Encourage and allow workers to take paid preventive cool-down rest periods as needed;
  • Provide enough shade or other way of cooling down—like an air-conditioned building or running vehicle—for all workers on a meal or rest break to use;
  • Provide enough cool drinking water for each worker to drink a quart per hour; and
  • Closely observe new personnel, personnel returning from absences, and all personnel during heat waves.

Additional protections for outdoor workers are in effect when the temperature reaches 90 degrees.

Heat-related illness can be serious, but is preventable. Visit the Outdoor Heat Exposure webpage for more information.