Adopted Wildfire Smoke Regulation Clarifies Employer Obligations
HRWatchdog April 19, 2021
With a new fire season approaching, has the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) developed additional regulations to address the hazards and mitigation of employee exposure to wildfire smoke?
The emergency wildfire smoke regulations promulgated by Cal/OSHA and adopted by the Standards Board (OSHSB) on July 18, 2019, have been revised, adopted and approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) as new Section 5141.1 of Title 8, the California Code of Regulations.
The new section, “Protection from Wildfire Smoke,” went into effect on February 1, 2021.
As the result of the catastrophic fire season of 2018, Cal/OSHA promulgated the emergency wildfire smoke regulation. This emergency regulation was not to be the final source for guidance and Cal/OSHA regulatory mandates.
Subsequently, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board presented the proposed revision of Title 8, Section 5141.1 emergency wildfire regulation. The purpose is to preserve worker safety and health and to clarify employers’ existing obligations, with the intent of making compliance easier, simpler and more straightforward.
Although the adopted regulation is substantially unchanged, there were areas within the emergency version that were not wholly clear. The adopted rule contains editorial revisions, tables are now clearly delineated, and some references to the air quality index (AQI) are deleted.