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Cal/OSHA issues safety advisory for workers in wildfire effected - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Cal/OSHA issues safety advisory for workers in wildfire effected areas

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The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued an advisory for worker safety in wildfire effected regions.  

Cal/OSHA is advising employers to take special precautions to protect workers from wildfire smoke hazards.  The health of workers can be harmed by wildfire smoke, which contains chemicals, gases and fine particles.  These hazards can reduce lung function, worsen asthma and other existing heart and lung conditions.  Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing can also be caused by breathing in wildfire smoke.

Under Title 8 section 3203 of the California Code of Regulations and as required under section 5141, employers must implement appropriate measures from their Illness Prevention Program if their operations are exposed to wildfire smoke.

Measures employers must take are:
- Controlling work environments, like air quality, if possible.
- Controlling worker's exposure if possible, like limiting the amount of time employees work outdoors.
- Providing respiratory equipment, like disposable face masks, to workers.

Face masks provided to workers must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100, and must be labeled approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Employees working in areas designated as "Very Unhealthy,"Unhealthy," or "hazardous" by local air quality management districts must be provided approved respiratory protective equipment as necessary.  While wearing a respiratory equipment, breathing can take more effort and can increase the risk of heath stress.  Frequent breaks are advised, an workers feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous are advised to go to a clean area, remove breathing equipment, and seek medical attention if needed.  Respirators and breathing equipment should also be thrown away if the inside becomes dirty or they become difficult to breathe through.

For more information on approved breathing equipment and worker safety in wildfire regions, click here.

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