Outdoor workers fend for themselves through the heat of the high desert

As temperature records fall, people are doing what they can – or must

(Update: added video, comments from Deschutes Roofing & Insulation, CS Construction)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The heat is rising, but not everyone has the opportunity to work in an air-conditioned interior.

Another record heat wave is baking much of the Northwest, including the High Desert, forcing many businesses to adjust their operations, both for the safety of workers and customers.

This especially means jobs that involve working outdoors all year round, in the cold, the heat – whatever happens. And in central Oregon, the focus is often on the construction industry.

Redmond Airport reached 103 degrees on Tuesday, two degrees above the old July 26 record of 101, set in 1998. And Redmond eclipsed this Wednesday with a record 104 degrees, one degree above the July 27 record of 103, set back in 1968.

After last year’s intense heat wave, Oregon OSHA enacted new safety rules to protect workers from extreme heat (or wildfire smoke).

In construction, when temperatures exceed the century, it can mean an earlier start and more frequent breaks for everyone, or simply not doing things you take for granted the rest of the year, such as construction work. roof.

A representative from Deschutes Roofing & Insulation in Bend said that in accordance with OSHA regulations to protect workers from high heat, they always follow safe methods.

“You’re on a roof – you have no shade protection,” administrative assistant Kieran Tierney said Wednesday.

As a result, roofers start earlier in the day, take long breaks at the hottest point of the day, and sometimes return to work in the evening.

“We give them extra hardware, so we have these new cooling beads.” said Tierney.

In addition to Deschutes Roofing & Insulation, CS Construction in Bend is also taking steps to protect its workers.

“We really tried to increase, you know, shade tents,” said Brandon Demoisy, CS Construction safety coordinator and shop manager. “We provide water and electrolytes to all of our guys.”

There is also an educational aspect, to ensure that workers take breaks, hydrate and take action if they are not feeling well.

“We are talking about heatstroke, discomfort due to heat,” said Demoisy.

“If they’re showing any symptoms of heat exhaustion — so you know, pale, clammy, or if they stop sweating — that’s the big indicator to get off the roof,” Tierney said.

Meanwhile, as part of its volunteer program, Bend Fire & Rescue is taking extra steps to support firefighters and police working on active fires.

The agency operates a rehab bus to deliver supplies and provide a place to cool off.

“A support unit that tackles fires and brings in food, water,” said volunteer coordinator George Fox.

The bus also carries clothes and comes with a potty.

Active not only in extreme heat conditions but also in extreme cold conditions, the rehab bus runs all year round.

If you would like to become a response team volunteer and help run the rehab bus, be sure to contact the Bend Fire & Rescue Administration at (541) 322-6300 to get in touch with George Fox.

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