In the April 3, 2020 edition of the California Regulatory Notice Register, Cal/OSHA proposed a permanent Wildfire Smoke Rule. This proposal will make permanent an active emergency rule that expires on April 24, 2020. Written comments in response to this proposal must be received by 5:00 PM on May 21, 2020.
Under this rule, employers who meet the following conditions are required to protect employees using a hierarchy of controls set forth in 8 CCR 5141:
- Employers that have employees working outdoors where the current Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or smaller (PM2.5) is 151 or greater
- Employers that can reasonably anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke
Workplaces or operations that meet certain conditions are exempt.
One important condition includes workplaces or operations in enclosed buildings or structures in which the air is filtered by a mechanical ventilation system. The employer must ensure that windows, doors, bays, and other openings are kept closed to minimize contamination by outdoor or unfiltered air.
Employers are expected to provide effective training to ensure employees understand how to protect their health during wildfire events. The rule also requires employers to communicate the current AQI for PM2.5 and related protective measures in a language and manner that employees can understand.
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