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Outdoor workers are managing through the High Desert heat

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

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

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The heat is picking up, but not everyone has the convenience of working in the air-conditioned indoors.

Another record-breaking heat wave is baking much of the Northwest, including the High Desert, making many businesses have to adjust their operations, for both worker and customer safety.

That especially means the jobs that involve working outdoors year-round, in the cold, heat – whatever may come. And in Central Oregon, that focus is often on the building industry.

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

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

In construction, when temperatures top the century mark, it can mean an early start and more frequent breaks for everyone, or just not doing things that you take for granted the rest of the year, like roofing operations.

A representative for Deschutes Roofing & Insulation in Bend said that in accordance with OSHA regulations to protect workers from high heat, it's continually practicing safe methods.

"You’re up on a roof -- you have no protection from the shade," Administrative Assistant Kieran Tierney said Wednesday.

Because of that, the roofers start earlier in the day, take long breaks at the hottest point of the day, and sometimes resume work in the evenings.

"We’re giving them extra gear, so we have those new cooling beads.” Tierney said.

Along with Deschutes Roofing & Insulation, CS Construction in Bend also takes steps to protect their workers.

“We’ve really tried to increase, you know, shade tents," said CS Construction Safety Coordinator and Shop Manager Brandon Demoisy. "We provide water and electrolytes to all our guys."

There’s also an educational aspect, to make sure workers are taking the breaks, hydrating and taking action if they don’t feel well.

“We talk about heat stroke, heat illness," Demoisy said.

“If they have any symptom of heat exhaustion -- so you know, pale, clammy, or 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 added measures to support firefighters and police working active fires.

The agency operates a rehab bus to deliver supplies and offer a place to cool down in.

"A support unit that actually goes out on fires and brings food, water," Volunteer Coordinator George Fox said.

The bus also carries clothing and comes with a porta-potty.

Active not only for extreme heat conditions but through extreme cold, the rehab bus rolls all year long.

If you're interested in becoming a response team volunteer and help operate the rehab bus, make sure you reach out to Bend Fire & Rescue Administration at (541) 322- 6300 to get in contact with George Fox.

Article Topic Follows: Weather

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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