Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke

cal osha blog 1

If you have employees who could spend a cumulative hour or more outside over the course of a shift, you must be aware of this emergency regulation. It could also include employers whose employees are intermittently exposed to the outside air. For example, certain warehouse jobs where employees might move in and out of doors or delivery jobs could fall under the emergency regulation.

The Temporary rule will be in effect through January 28, 2020, with two possible 90-day extensions; during which time the board will likely attempt to establish permanency of the rule. Familiarize yourself with the regulation, decide as an organization whether or not the rule applies to you, and make a decision as to what steps you will take to ensure that you are in compliance.

Under the new emergency regulation, employers must take the following steps to protect workers who may be exposed to wildfire smoke:

  1. Identify harmful exposure to airborne particulate matter from wildfire smoke at the start of each shift and periodically thereafter by checking the AQI for PM 2.5 in regions where workers are located.
  2. Reduce harmful exposure to wildfire smoke if feasible, for example, by relocating work to an enclosed building with filtered air or to an outdoor location where the AQI for PM 2.5 is 150 or lower. If employers cannot reduce workers’ harmful exposure to wildfire smoke so that the AQI for PM 2.5 is 150 or lower, they must provide:
    • Respirators such as N95 masks to all employees for voluntary use, and
    • Training on the new regulation, the health effects of wildfire smoke, and the safe use and maintenance of respirators.

For more information, please read this news release from Cal/OSHA.