In the September 2021 Oregon Bulletin, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR OSHA) adopted temporary wildfire smoke rules. OR OSHA began the normal rulemaking process earlier this year, and has issued this temporary rule while the permanent rulemaking process continues. The temporary rule became effective on August 9, 2021 and is set to expire on February 4, 2022.
These rules apply to public and private employers will be exposed to wildfire smoke when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is at or above 101. They do NOT apply to:
- Intermittent exposure of less than 15 minutes in an hour
- Short-duration exposure of less than two hours in a single 24 hour period
- Buildings or enclosed vehicles with a mechanical ventilation system
Under the temporary rule, beginning August 16, 2021, employers must provide training about the hazards of wildfire smoke and how to address them before exposing employees to wildfire smoke when the AQI is 101 or higher. Employers may avoid the training requirement if they determine in advance that they will suspend affected operations if the AQI is 101 or above.
Additional requirements apply at the following AQI levels:
- AQI 101 or higher | Employers must provide respirators for voluntary use and must develop and implement a system to communicate wildfire smoke hazards with employees.
- AQI 201 or higher | Employers must use feasible engineering controls or administrative controls to reduce exposures. Employers must also require employees to wear NIOSH-approved respirators, but are not required to implement a full Respiratory Protection Program. Employers may also provide previously FDA-approved KN-95 masks.
- AQI 501 or higher | Employers must ensure that employees wear NIOSH-approved respirators and implement a complete Respiratory Protection Program.
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