California Law Alert: Outdoor Workers and protection from Wildfire Smoke
On July 18, 2019, the California Occupational Safety and Health Board adopted an emergency regulation to add protections for outdoor workers exposed to wildfire smoke. Specifically, the regulation requires that employers check the Air Quality Index (AQI) and forecasts, before each shift and periodically thereafter, for workplaces where:
The current AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, regardless of the AQI for other pollutants; and
The employer should reasonably anticipate that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke.
The regulation also contains mandatory employer-provided training and instruction requirements for employees to protect against wildfire smoke, along with employee rights. For example, employers must:
Allow employees who show signs of injury or illness due to wildfire smoke exposure to seek medical treatment and not punish affected employees for seeking such treatment.
Have effective provisions made in advance for prompt medical treatment of employees in the event of serious injury or illness caused by wildfire smoke exposure.
The regulations took effect on July 29, 2019 and expire on January 18, 2020.
Read the regulation