New rules passed to protect workers from wildfire smoke: guidance available
- Identify potential exposures to harmful air quality caused by wildfire smoke (i.e. monitor Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts and daily levels during wildfire events).
- Communicate wildfire smoke hazards, air quality conditions, protective measures, and encourage feedback from employees.
- Train employees who are reasonably anticipated to be affected by unhealthy air quality caused by wildfire smoke.
- Control harmful exposure to outdoor workers by various methods as feasible. During unhealthy air quality events, these control measures may include working indoors in a building with filtered air, limiting the duration and intensity of outdoor work, or use of a filtering respirator when other means are not effective or practical to control exposure. The standard requires that when the AQI for PM2.5 reaches 151 or higher, the employer must make respirators available for employees to use if they must work outdoors.
UC ANR Risk & Safety Services has developed guidance and training on how to comply with this new regulation at http://ucanr.edu/protectfromwildfiresmoke as well as a PowerPoint training for safety coordinators to share with employees. Risk & Safety Services is also procuring respirators that will be shipped to all ANR locations.
“Since this is a brand-new regulation, we expect that additional guidance will come out from Cal/OSHA in the next few months,” said Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services.
In addition to this Cal/OSHA standard, a team from all UC campuses and ANR has been developing a decision matrix for guiding how UC locations will respond to unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke. This decision matrix will include various types of activities, such as outdoor workers, volunteers, athletics, camps, and youth activities. We will share this additional information as the decision matrix is finalized.
If you have questions about the new wildfire smoke rules, please contact Brian Oatman at (530) 750-1264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.