December 1, 2021

Volume XI, Number 335


November 30, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

November 29, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Cal/OSHA Wildfire Safety Requirements Apply to More Than Outdoor Worksites

Historically, California has experienced the most destructive wildfires in the months of September and October.  As we head into those months, employers should make sure they are familiar with California’s wildfire smoke standard.  Harmful air quality from wildfire smoke can occur anywhere in the state on short notice, so it is vital that employers prepare early.

With some exceptions, the standard applies to workplaces where the air quality index is 151 (Unhealthy) or higher and where it’s reasonably anticipated that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke.  In addition to applying to outdoor settings, the standard also applies to indoor locations where the air is not filtered or if doors and windows are kept open, such as warehouses, packing, manufacturing, and distribution facilities.

Under the wildfire smoke standard, employers must protect employees from smoke by:

  • Monitoring the local air quality index;

  • Ensure open communication with employees;

  • Train employees on the information contained in Appendix B to Section 5141.1;

  • Modifying the workplace, if possible, to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke; and

  • Providing proper respiratory protection, like N95 respirators, for voluntary use when work must be performed in a location with poor air quality.

Moreover, if the air quality index for particulate matter (PM) 2.5 exceeds 500 due to wildfire smoke, respirator use is mandatory. Employers must make sure employees are using respirators correctly in these situations.  If employers cannot move operations and do not have access to respiratory protection, then operations may need to be stopped until the air quality improves.

To assist employers, Cal/OSHA maintains a list of vendors who report available supplies of N95 disposable respirators, which is updated regularly.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 243

About this Author


Sean Paisan is Of Counsel in the Orange County, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on workplace safety and health (OSHA), data privacy, and traditional employment matters, including litigation and counseling.  

Sean’s first exposure to OSHA regulations occurred during his undergraduate studies while working for a construction company that helped build Disney’s California Adventure. After attending law school and working for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the United States...

Sierra Vierra, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Sacramento, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Sierra Vierra is an Associate in the Sacramento, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She represents management in civil litigation and administrative proceedings involving employment law matters, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, benefits, and a wide range of wage and hour issues. She litigates in federal and state courts, including class and representative actions, and represents employers in administrative proceedings. She also provides preventive advice and counsel on best practices.