Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulation requiring employers to
protect workers from hazards associated with wildfire smoke is now in effect,
following its approval on July 29, 2019, by the Office of Administrative Law.
The emergency regulation, effective through January 28,
2020, with two possible 90-day extensions, applies to workplaces where the
current Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter (PM 2.5) is 151
or greater, and where employers should reasonably anticipate that employees
could be exposed to wildfire smoke.
Under the new emergency regulation, employers must take the
following steps to protect workers who may be exposed to wildfire smoke:
harmful exposure to airborne particulate matter from wildfire smoke at the
start of each shift and periodically thereafter by checking the AQI for PM 2.5
in regions where workers are located.
harmful exposure to wildfire smoke if feasible, for example, by relocating work
to an enclosed building with filtered air or to an outdoor location where the
AQI for PM 2.5 is 150 or lower.
- If employers
cannot reduce workers’ harmful exposure to wildfire smoke so that the AQI for
PM 2.5 is 150 or lower, they must provide:
- Respirators such as N95 masks to all employees for
voluntary use, and
- Training on the new regulation, the health effects of
wildfire smoke, and the safe use and maintenance of respirators.
For more information, please click here.