Worker Protection from Wildfire Smoke Standard The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) requires most outdoor employers to protect their workers from wildfire smoke. This protection is necessary because wildfire smoke is composed of harmful chemicals and tiny, air-suspended particles that present a significant health hazard for workers. These particles, referred to as particulate matter (PM) 2.5 which are particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter, can irritate the lungs and cause serious or even fatal health complications like reduced lung function, bronchitis, asthma aggravation and heart failure.
Specifically, Cal/OSHA’s protection from wildfire smoke standard (the standard) requires employers to:
Implement harmful exposure identification procedures;
Establish an adequate communication system;
Train and instruct their employees;
Control harmful exposures; and
Follow specific particulate sampling requirements (when employers choose to monitor employee exposure with a direct reading instrument).
The standard applies to outdoor employers when:
The current Air Quality Index (current AQI) for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, regardless of the AQI for other pollutants; and
Employers should reasonably anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke.
Cal/OSHA considers compliance with this standard as a sign of compliance with the standards for the control of harmful exposures to employees and airborne contaminants.
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