Cal OSHA protects outdoor workers from being exposed to smoke above an AQI of 151 for PM 2.5 per T8 CCR Section 5141.1. Smoke from wildfires contains hazardous chemicals, gases, and tiny particles. Breathing in smoke particles is especially harmful because it may cause difficulty breathing, coughing or wheezing. It can also aggravate asthma, reduce lung function, or cause other severe health problems and even death.
Requirements for employers to help protect their employees:
• Develop and implement Wildfire Smoke Protection Policy
• Train affected employees in safe work practices/requirements during localized wildfires
• Check the current AQI at the start of each shift and periodically throughout the workday
• Lower employee exposures
• Provide respirators and encourage workers to use them. Note: Respirators are an effective way to protect workers from wildfire smoke when they’re used properly, respirator training and fit testing for employees is required.
Employers must notify affected workers when the air quality is poor or if conditions worsen. Employees who are experiencing symptoms due to poor air quality may request/seek medical treatment without fear of job termination. See airnow.gov for live AQI info.