With the wildfires happening throughout California, there are questions and concerns regarding the air quality related to smoke. The first step is to check local air quality reports to determine the air quality in your district and be on the lookout for information from your local public health officials.
Suggestions for workdays when the air quality is listed as unhealthy:
- Plan your day around the smokiest times in order to minimize exposure – utilizing air quality reports you may find that the smoke is worse in the beginning or end of the workday.
- Stay Indoors – For those whose work normally takes them outside, today might be the day to catch up on office activities, paperwork or other indoor tasks.
- Limit Strenuous Outdoor Activity – Those work activities that require heavy physical exertion should be avoided.
- Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
- Building managers and employers should ensure that the HVAC systems’ filters are not dirty, damaged, dislodge, leaking around the edges and are in proper working order.
- When in your vehicle – keep the windows rolled up and run the air-conditioner/heater turned on to the recirculate setting.
- Keep airways moist by drinking plenty of water
- Paper “dust” masks or surgical masks will not protect your lungs from the fine particles found in wildfire smoke. Particulate masks known as N-95 or N-100 respirators may help, but they must fit well and be used correctly. If you choose to provide these types of filtering face pieces on a voluntary basis, be sure to provide employees with a copy of T8 CCR, Section 5144 Appendix D, (Mandatory) Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required Under the Standard.
The following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resource, Appendix A Guidance on Protecting Workers in Offices and Similar Indoor Workplaces from Wildfire Smoke, contains helpful information adapted from Cal/OSHA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also put together some information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.
As always, if you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the Risk Control Department.