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October 29, 2019

Cal/OSHA Encourages Employers to Protect Workers from Unhealthy Air Quality due to Wildfire Smoke

Cal/OSHA prompts all employers to take the necessary steps to protect workers from harmful exposure to unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke. As previously reported in Spotlight, the Office of Administrative Law approved the Protection from Wildfire Smoke regulation, which requires California employers to protect their employees from possible harm created by wildfire smoke.

Requirements for Employers

When wildfire smoke affects a worksite, employers must monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) for particulate matter in the air, known as PM2.5. Employers can monitor the AQI by using the U.S. EPA AirNow website.

If the AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, employers must:

• Inform employees of the AQI for PM2.5 and the protective measures available to them.

• Reduce harmful exposure to wildfire smoke if feasible; for example, by relocating work to an enclosed building with filtered air or an outdoor location where the AQI for PM2.5 is 150 or lower.

• Provide respirators, such as N95 masks, to all employees for voluntary use. If the current AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500, respirator use is required.

• Provide training on the new regulation, including the health effects of wildfire smoke and the proper use and maintenance of respirators.

Click here to read the California Department of Industrial Relations’ full press release.

For more information, please contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253