• Emergency Wildfire Smoke Rules: Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q: As an employer, how do I know when the Wildfire Smoke rules apply?
     
    A: The rules are currently in effect and enforcement can start at any time. The standard applies to workplaces where the employer “should reasonably anticipate” that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke. The new rules do not apply to workers who are in environments with filtered air (offices, vehicles with cabin air filters, etc.)
     
    Q:  As an employer, once I reasonably anticipate employee exposure, how can I verify that there is actual exposure?
     
    A: There are several websites and mobile apps available for employers to check air quality (see list below). In addition, employers may use an on-site air quality monitor.
     
    PM 2.5 and AQI information available:
     
    https://portal.airfire.org                
    https://www.airnow.gov/
    http://www.enviroflash.info/
    AirNow mobile app for android and iOS
    Directly from the U.S. EPA or local clean air agency by telephone, email, text, or other effective method.

    NowCast WAQA information available:

    https://enviwa.ecology.wa.gov/home/map;
    https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
    "AirQualityWA” mobile app for android and iOS
    Directly from the Washington state department of ecology, or local clean air agency by telephone, email, text, or other effective method.
     
    Q:  At what air quality levels do I as an employer have to take action?
     
    A:  At WAQA level of 101 or an AQI level of 69:
     
    1. The employer must provide all workers effective information, notification, and training regarding wildfire smoke before work that exposes them to affected air and at least annually thereafter (see link to Appendix B below for training requirements and an information sheet to distribute to employees).
    2. Employers are encouraged to implement exposure controls.  Such controls include:
      1. Providing enclosed buildings, structures, or vehicles where the air is adequately filtered;
      2. Providing portable HEPA filters in enclosed areas;
      3. Relocating work to a location with a lower ambient air con- centration of PM2.5;
      4. Changing work schedules to a time with a lower ambient air concentration of PM2.5;
      5. Reducing work intensity;
      6. Providing additional rest periods.
    3. Employers are encouraged to provide respirators at no cost to employees upon request.
      1. Respirators shall be NIOSH-approved devices that effectively protect the wearers from inhalation of PM2.5, such as N95 filtering facepiece respirators. Employers may provide KN95 filtering facepiece respirators during the 2021 wildfire season.
    4. Workers may request to provide and wear their own respiratory protection voluntarily.
     
    Once levels reach WAQA level of 173/AQI level of 151 or more:
     
    1. The employer must implement exposure controls (see a-f above) whenever feasible.
    2. The employer must provide respirators at no cost to all employees and encourage employees to use respirators.
      1. Respirators shall be NIOSH-approved devices that effectively protect the wearers from inhalation of PM2.5, such as N95 filtering facepiece respirators. Employers may provide KN95 filtering facepiece respirators during the 2021 wildfire season.
      2.  
    Q:  Are there any training materials available for employers to use?
     
    A:  Yes – go to the link below and Appendix B is a complete set of Wildfire Smoke Training Requirements for employers – fill in the blanks and use it to train employees and supervisors. 
     
    **Use this as a template for your training/documentation of training**
    https://lni.wa.gov/rulemaking-activity/AO21-26/2126CR103EAdoption.pdf
     
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