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  • The Danger of Hazy Wildfire Smoke Standards

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    April 29, 2019
    April 29, 2019 Leslie Leder GeneralWorkplace Safety

    In the wake of recent devastating wildfires, California’s homeowners, businesses, and local governments have been left to clean up the devastation and rebuild their lives.  While rebuilding, Government agencies regulating water and waste disposal are engaged, and recently labor groups petitioned OSHA for emergency rulemaking to create regulatory protections for outdoor workers inhaling wildfire smoke.  The petition has been granted and Cal/OSHA has scheduled an advisory meeting to discuss proposed emergency regulations on May 8, 2019 in Oakland, California.

    We have been monitoring this regulatory process to ensure that the resulting regulations not only protect workers, but are also practical and feasible for employers.  However, the present draft text of the emergency regulations on wildfire smoke contains numerous concerns for employers, including:

    Unclear standards to trigger employers’ duties under the text.
    –         Unclear requirements for employers regarding monitoring air quality and weather.
    –         Unclear requirements for communicating weather conditions to employees.
    –         Unclear application to indoor or mixed workplaces, including potentially requiring new MERV-13 filters be installed by all businesses near a wildfire.

    CalChamber has submitted written comments seeking clarification on these issues and will attend the hearing on May 8th as well.  Stay tuned to see how these regulations are amended or revised through the process.  Read More