Upcoming Advisory Meeting to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke

smoke from wildfires

On December 13, 2018, after the Camp Fire became the deadliest and most costly wildfire in California history, blanketing Sacramento and much of the Central Valley in smoke, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) received a joint submission from Mitch Steiger, California Labor Federation; Douglas Parker, Worksafe; and Anne Katten, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and WCAHS External Advisory Board member, seeking emergency regulatory protection of outdoor workers from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke.

What You Need to Know

  • The petition applies to outdoor occupations, including: agriculture, construction, landscaping, outdoor maintenance, commercial delivery, and others.
  • The petitioners request that, in the event the Air Quality Index (AQI) for fine particulate matter (PM) rises to the "Unhealthy" level of over 150, that safety order requirements be adopted for these outdoor occupations.
  • The petitioners request emergency rulemaking to be modeled after wildfire smoke hazard health advisories of Cal/OSHA, the Air Resources Board (ARB), and public health authorities.
  • The petition calls for the standard to require feasible engineering controls such as enclosed structures or
    vehicle cabs with filtered air for rest and meal breaks, or where feasible, administrative controls such as changes in work location and schedules, reduction in work intensity, and additional rest periods. Also, it calls for provision of appropriately selected and maintained respiratory protection for the employees.

Voice Your Opinion

The Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH) is taking comments on the draft language of the proposal until April 26, in preparation for the upcoming advisory meeting on May 8, 2019 at the Harris State Building in Oakland, CA. 

Direct comments and questions can be directed to Deputy Chief of Health, Eric Berg, at eberg@dir.ca.gov or 510-286-7010; or Senior Safety Engineer, Amalia Neidhardt, at aneidhardt@dir.ca.gov or 916-263-1944.

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