OSHA Releases Free Online Training for New Wildfire Smoke Rules

OSHA Releases Free Online Training for New Wildfire Smoke Rules

Training is easy access and offered in both English and Spanish.

A free resource is now available to Oregon employers to help them comply with rules with the goal of protecting workers from wildfire smoke. Oregon OSHA created an interactive, flexible online training course. Wildfire Smoke Training Requirements is designed to help employers meet certain training rules found in Oregon OSHA’s emergency temporary rule, addressing wildfire smoke in the workplace.

“We encourage employers to take advantage of this free training resource, which will help them better understand and carry out our rule,” said Roy Kroker, consultation and public education manager for Oregon OSHA. “And it provides an opportunity for employers to enhance their existing training programs.”

The temporary rule addressing wildfire smoke took effect August 9, 2021 and will remain in effect for 180 days. The rule requires employers to comply with employee training provisions by August 16, 2021. They must do so for employees who may be exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) is at or above an Air Quality Index (AQI) 101, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to an article.

The training requirement applies unless the employer decides that operations involving wildfire smoke exposure will be suspended before employees are exposed to an AQI 101.

The online training course covers six of the 10 required training elements. They are:

• Symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure

• Potential health effects of wildfire smoke

• The definition of sensitive groups

• Employees’ rights

• How to access the AQI

• The importance, limitations and benefits of using a filtering face-piece respirator (commonly known as an N95) and how to properly wear one

The remaining four required training elements are based on each employer’s operational practices which must be covered by him/her. Those elements are: steps to take when an employee is sick from exposure to wildfire smoke, how to operate air quality monitoring devices supplied by the employer, methods to protect employees from wildfire smoke and a communication system for wildfire smoke hazards.

Oregon OSHA’s online training course takes about an hour to complete. It includes graphics and links to more resources to help employers achieve full compliance with the rule. It offers an opportunity to receive a completion certificate. Oregon OSHA encourages those completing the course to read the temporary wildfire smoke rule. Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace.

In addition to the courses, the division offers the following free resources, involving no citations or penalties, to help employers comply with workplace health and safety requirements. These include: consultation services and technical staff. For more information about wildfire smoke in Oregon click here.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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