Fire season is rapidly approaching here in California. Employers may already be familiar with the emergency wildfire smoke regulations that have been in place since 2019 to best protect their employees, specifically under section 5141.1 in Title 8. This section has continued to evolve, with the most recent edits posted on February 1st , 2021 as of the release of this article. Employers who may face these conditions should remain aware of additional incoming changes as soon as the next few months.
The proposed edits to the Title 8 regulation clarify that doors in enclosed buildings, structures, or vehicles with mechanical ventilation systems may be opened to enter or exit in an emergency. The previous rule on keeping all other openings closed still stands, but this change helps clarify what should be done as far as evacuation is concerned. It also adds more technical changes, such as appendices on employer monitoring of PM 2.5 levels and the need for instruction on the use of respirators. Finally, it removes some references to the air quality index (or AQI) and streamlines other procedures based on the employer’s assumed identification of the measurement.
More information can be found on these proposed changes at the Department of Industrial Relations website, using the link below:
California went through one of the deadliest fire seasons in recent history, and with this year’s drought, we may see more of these natural disasters in the future. While there may be more changes before the final version is released, it is vital that you understand what is already being proposed and prepare to protect your employees and business. We will be closely following any updates to this provision as they come and will offer the appropriate training, best practices, and guidance as recommended by Cal/OSHA. If you have any further questions, please call our office at 877-734-7677, or you may contact your HR Mobile Services, Inc. Safety and Health Representative.
Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “Protecting Indoor Workplaces from Wildfire Smoke with Building Ventilation Systems and Other Methods,” Organization Title, 2019, www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/wildfire/Indoor-Protection-from-Wildfire-Smoke.html.
Giso. “§5141.1 Protection from Wildfire Smoke.” California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5141.1. Protection from Wildfire Smoke., 2021, www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/5141_1.html.