OSHA Reminds Employers to Protect Employees from CA Wildfire Smoke

As a number of wildfires burn in California, OSHA reminds employers to be mindful of air quality regulations and protect employees from unhealthy wildfire smoke.

The California OSHA is advising employer of the necessary steps to protect employees from harmful exposure to wildfire smoke and unhealthy air quality. The state’s protection from wildfire smoke standard applies to workplaces where the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fine particles in the air is 151 or greater and where workers be exposed to smoke from wildfires.

When wildfire smoke is present at a worksite, employers must not only monitor the AQI, but they need to react accordingly. Employers can measure AQI particulate matter in the air, or the PM2.5, on the following websites, according to the Department of Industrial Relations in California news release:

If the AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, employers must take the following steps to protect employees from harmful smoke:

  • Communication: Inform employees of the AQI for PM2.5 and the protective measures available to them.
  • Modifications: Implement modifications to the workplace, if feasible, to reduce exposure. Examples include providing enclosed structures or vehicles for employees to work in, where the air is filtered.
  • Changes: Implement practicable changes to work procedures and schedules such as changing the work site location or reducing the amount of time employees work outdoors or exposed to unfiltered outdoor air.
  • Respiratory protection: provide proper respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable respirators, for voluntary use. See the news release for the specific requirements each disposable respirator needs.

Smoke from wildfires can be extremely harmful to a person’s health. Wildfire smoke contains chemicals, gases, and fine particles. The greatest hazard comes from breathing fine particles in the air, which can reduce lung function, worsen asthma and other heart and lung conditions, and cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

Cal/OSHA’s web page provides useful guidance for employers and workers on working safely in conditions with smoke caused by wildfires. It also includes information for protecting outdoor workers, how to protect indoor workers from outdoor air pollution, and frequently asked questions about N95 masks.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Incident investigation guide

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Levels of a Risk Matrix

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark FR Quiz

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - July August 2020

    July August 2020

    Featuring:

    • CONFINED SPACES
      Addressing Confined Spaces and Heat Stress Concerns
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Why Daily Wear FR Garments Make Sense No Matter the Season
    • HAND PROTECTION
      The Magic of New Technology
    • CHEMICAL SAFETY
      Why Effective Chemical Safety Training is More Important Than Ever
    View This Issue