Emergency heat rules caused issues for Washington farmers

Washington state issued emergency rules for farm workers during the recent record-breaking heatwave. The new rules state that when the temperature hits 100 degrees, employers must provide a paid cool down rest period of at least ten minutes every two hours.

The problem though, according to the Washington Farm Bureau, is that the state did not reach out to any ag groups to see what they were doing, and farmers were not given enough time to learn about the new rules.

“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... So, what farmers have done in the past is adjust things like work schedules to cooler parts of the day... or already on top of providing extra water and taking more rest breaks,” Dominique Damian states.

The regulations mean even more administrative responsibilities for growers.

The state says that it will meet with stakeholders in the coming months to draft an updated, permanent outdoor heat exposure rule.