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Permanent Wildfire Smoke Rules Enacted Mandating Employer Action

Effective January 15, 2024, and generally applicable to all workplaces, employers will be required to do the following:

  • Prepare a written wildfire smoke response plan.
  • Provide wildfire smoke training to employees.
  • Watch the Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 conditions and forecasts.
  • Prepare a two-way communication system.
  • Make provisions for prompt medical treatment and permit that treatment without retaliation.

The following additional employer duties are triggered as the Air Quality Index (AQI) worsens:

  • When the AQI is 69–100, all the above plus notifying employees of PM2.5 conditions, ensuring only trained employees work outdoors, considering implementing exposure controls, and considering providing voluntary use respirators.
  • When the AQI is 101–300, all the above plus implementing exposure controls and making N95 respirators available for voluntary use.
  • When the AQI is 301–499, all the above plus ensuring workers experiencing adverse symptoms requiring medical attention are moved to a location that ensures sufficient clean air and directly distributing N95 respirators to employees for voluntary use.
  • When the AQI is 500+, all the above plus implementing a complete required-use respiratory protection program, including fit-testing, medical evaluations, requiring employees to be clean-shaven, and requiring the use of particulate respirators.
  • Thereafter, all the above plus requiring respirators with an assigned protection factor of 25 or more because N95 Respirators are not sufficient at this level of smoke.

Employers covered under the Wildfire Smoke Rules will also be required to provide workers with training on wildfire smoke before exposing them to a PM2.5 concentration of 20.5 µg/m3 (AQI 69) or more. Training will need to be done before smoke exposure and annually repeated. The rules won’t apply to workplaces that are enclosed buildings or vehicles (with proper cabin air filtration) where the employer ensures windows, doors, bays, and other exterior openings are kept closed, except when it is necessary to briefly open doors to enter and exit.

HR Services Team
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