As wildfires become more and more common in California, the CalOSHA Standards Board voted and approved emergency protections for outdoor workers exposed to wildfire smoke.
When Will This Take Place?
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health is convening the Advisory Committee on the permanent regulation. The regulation will most likely become effective late July to mid-August 2019.
What Businesses Will Be
Workplaces when the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 151 or greater, considered unhealthy, or when employers “should reasonably anticipate,” that employees will be exposed to wildfire smoke. Workplaces in enclosed buildings or structures with filtered air, employees in vehicles, employees that are exposed to unhealthy air for no more than one hour and wildland firefighters are exempt.
What Will Employers Need
Reduce exposure by moving employees to a new location where the AQI is lower than 151 or provide workers with buildings, structures or vehicles from which to work in order to avoid harmful wildfire smoke. Employers will also need to update their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) in order to establish and implement a system to communicate wildfire smoke hazards to those affected employees.
How Can I Obtain The
Current Air Quality Index (AQI) For PM2.5?
The easiest way to find the current and forecasted AQI for PM2.5 is to go to www.AirNow.gov and enter the zip code of the location where you will be working. The current AQI is also available from the U.S. Forest Service at https://tools.airfire.org or a local air district, which can be located at www.arb.ca.gov/capcoa/dismap.htm. The EPA website www.enviroflash.info can transmit daily and forecasted AQIs by text or email for particular cities or zip codes.
***Employers will be required to provide NIOSH-Approved N-95 respirators for employees’ voluntary use where the AQI is equal to or greater than 151. If the AQI exceeds 500, respirator use is mandatory with all the requirements that come with it, such as fit-testing.***
Note: This information was provided by InterWest Insurance Services, LLC.