Prep and plan for higher temperatures, wildfire season

Oregon summers bring sunshine and increased outdoor activity, but they can also produce conditions that affect members of the University of Oregon campus. Severe heat- and wildfire-related air quality conditions may result in public safety advisories that spur questions and concerns from employees and students.

“Supervisors and employees both have responsibilities under Oregon OSHA regulations,” said Haily Griffith, occupational health and safety manager. “Complete online trainings and refer to resources to help you understand your role in preventing injuries and illnesses.”

The Safety and Risk website provides tools, safety sheets and links to in-person and online trainings to help the UO community prevent heat stress during periods of high temperatures and prepare for wildfire smoke conditions. The Office of Human Resources provides guidance about working conditions when air quality issues exist and during heat advisories to ensure the safety and comfort of employees. The guidance includes supervisor responsibilities to ensure workplace safety and compliance with regulations.

Oregon fire officials, utilities and emergency responders around the state are preparing for the wildfire season. While university campuses are at low risk for an actual wildfire, UO community members living in some areas are at much higher risk of direct impact.

“Employees are encouraged to proactively plan for wildfires to protect their property to the greatest extent possible and to prepare for potential evacuation should a wildfire threaten their home,” said Krista Dillon, director of operations for Safety and Risk Services. The National Fire Protection Association provides resources and wildfire preparedness tips.

As with other inclement weather events, employees who are unable to report to work because of extreme weather or wildfires may use accrued vacation, compensatory time, exchange time, personal leave or leave without pay to cover the missed work time, if applicable and approved to the extent approval is required. Use of accrued sick leave is appropriate only in the case of illness.

The university typically maintains regular operations during heat advisories and periods of low air quality, including the impact of wildfire smoke, with no change to work or class schedules. Should a rare occasion disrupt regular operations, the standard procedures apply for weather-related notifications, such as cancellation, delayed start and early closure decisions.