Protecting Workers Exposed to Wildfire Smoke

In California and other parts of the United States, wildfires have become frequent occurrences. Those events can expose firefighters and people who live and work in affected areas to unsafe levels of airborne particles. Contaminated air can also travel far from the scene of a wildfire and affect people in other locations.

Breathing contaminated air can cause serious respiratory problems and heart failure. The California Department of Industrial Relations has therefore implemented guidelines on measures that businesses should take to protect workers from the hazards of wildfire smoke.

Which Businesses Must Comply with California Government Standards?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses the Current Air Quality Index (AQI) to provide real-time data on air quality and to warn the public about dangerous levels of airborne contaminants. If the Current AQI for airborne particulate matter 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5) or smaller is 151 or higher, or if an employer should reasonably suspect that workers may be exposed to smoke from a wildfire, the business is required to take steps to protect employees.

These regulations don’t apply to businesses where employees work in enclosed buildings or vehicles with adequate ventilation and filtration systems and doors are only opened and closed so people can enter and exit. The rules also don’t apply if the concentration of PM 2.5 at a workplace does not exceed 151 or if workers are only exposed to PM 2.5 greater than 151 for one hour or less per shift. In addition, the regulations do not apply to firefighters battling a wildfire.

How Can Employers Protect Workers?

Businesses have a duty to communicate with employees about hazards associated with a wildfire and to take measures to keep them safe. Those measures may include using filtration systems to maintain healthy indoor air quality and relocating employees to a safer area when necessary. Employers may also be required to provide N95 masks or other types of respirators to workers.

Order Respirators to Protect Your Employees from Wildfire Smoke

When a wildfire breaks out, it can endanger the health and safety of people who live and work both near the site and far away. If you run a business, be proactive and make sure that you have supplies available to keep your employees safe in the event that a wildfire breaks out.

SoCal First Aid sells a variety of personal protective equipment, including respirators. They can filter out harmful particulates so your employees will be protected from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke. Order respirators from SoCal First Aid today.


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