California has had a banner year of rain and snow. Most of the state’s reservoirs are nearing capacity and the hills are still lush with greenery. However, wildfire season is rapidly approaching and these fires have the capacity to generate large amounts of wildfire smoke. Earlier this year, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board requested that Cal/OSHA develop an emergency regulation on adding further protections to workers from wildfire smoke. WG staff has been an active participant in this process to ensure that the proposed regulations are not overly broad in scope and that that they are easily understood and feasible for both workers and employers. It is expected that this emergency regulation will be presented to the Standards Board for adoption at their July 18th meeting in San Diego. Several key points of discussion have occurred about what the triggering event should be that would require employers to provide respirators to their employees and what training should be required under this regulation. In addition, WG staff has been advocating that it is critically important that this regulation provide an exemption to the existing requirement that employees undergo medical evaluation and fit testing of the respiratory prior to its use. This is an overly burdensome process and would not lend itself to employee safety in emergency situations.
For more information, contact Matthew Allen at (916) 446-1435.
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