Given the dry weather conditions and potential for another year of significant wildfires, employers should prepare now to protect employees from harmful wildfire smoke.
California’s wildfire smoke regulation, adopted February 1, 2021, requires employers to take specific actions to protect outdoor employers when the Air Quality Index (AQI) for OM2.5 is 151 and when employers should reasonable anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke.
The regulation requires employers to do the following:
- Identification of Harmful Exposures – Determine employee exposure to PM2.5 at the start of each shift and periodically thereafter, as needed.
- Communication – Implement a system for communicating wildfire smoke hazards in a language and manner readily understandable by employees.
- Training and instruction information – Provide effective training as explained in Appendix B of the regulation.
- Control of harmful exposures to employees – With certain exceptions, employers must reduce workers’ exposure to wildfire smoke in the following ways:
- If feasible, by providing an enclosed location with filtered air so that employee exposure to PM2.5 is less than a current AQI of 151, or to the extent feasible.
- If that is not feasible or adequate, by relocating to another outdoor location where the current AQI for PM2.5 is lower, changing work schedules, reducing work intensity, or providing more rest periods.
- With respiratory protective equipment if employers cannot reduce workers’ exposure to PM2.5 to a current AQI of less than 151.
- Where the current AQI for PM2.5 is from 151 to 500, employers must provide a sufficient number of NIOSH-approved particulate respirators, such as N95 masks, to all employees for voluntary use, and training on the regulation, the health effects of wildfire smoke, and the safe use and maintenance of respirators.
- Where the current AQI for PM2.5 is higher than 500, the employer must provide and require employees to use NIOSH-approved particulate respirators that will reduce employee exposure to PM2.5 to an equivalent of an AQI less than 151.
To review the regulation and helpful resources, go to https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/doshreg/Protection-from-Wildfire-Smoke/Wildfire-smoke-emergency-standard.html.
Free N-95 Respirators Available at CCM
California Citrus Mutual has a supply of N-95 respirators provided by the California Office of Emergency Services, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Fresno County Ag Commissioner’s Office.
Complete this online form or call the CCM office at (559) 592-3790 to get your masks now in preparation of future wildfire smoke emergencies.
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