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Cal / OSHA reminds employers to protect workers from fire smoke



California employers must ensure they take action to protect their workers from smoke, the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health reminded employers in a statement Thursday.

With almost two dozen fires burning in the state as of late Thursday, employers close to these fires must comply with Cal / OSHA's regulation on emergency smoke, which entered into force in July 2019 and has been extended to early 2021.

"Employers are are obliged to protect their outdoor workers and must evaluate the health risks posed by fire, "said Doug Parker, Cal / OSHA chief." If employers cannot move indoor operations where the air is sufficiently filtered and they do not have access to respiratory protection, they may need to stop. operations until the outdoor air quality improves. "

Smoke from fire burns contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health, with the greatest risk of breathing fine particles in the air that can reduce lung function, worsen asthma or other existing heart and lung conditions, and cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, according to Cal / OSHA.

In areas where the current air quality index is marked 1

51 or higher for airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or where employers should reasonably anticipate that employees may be exposed to fire, employers must check the air quality index where workers are located at the beginning of each shift and take action to to mitigate exposure by relocating workers to enclosed buildings or locations where the air quality index is 150 or lower. Employers with air quality conditions above the threshold are required to offer workers respiratory protection, such as N95 masks, and must also meet Cal / OSHA's respiratory protection standards.

The Agency noted that employers who move operations indoors or into enclosed spaces due to forest fires must ensure that they also follow guidelines to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

More insurance and labor news about the coronavirus crisis here .

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