New wildfire smoke goes into effect Jan. 15
Last updated 1/3/2024 at 11:08am
TUMWATER – The state Department of Labor and Industries is imposing a new rule regulating workers’ exposure to smoke from wildfires.
On Jan. 15, the agency’s new rule requires employers to have train employees on the hazards of smoke, monitor smoke levels and ensure workers have access to prompt medical attention.
The new rule will be in effect year-round, not just during fire season.
“With our changing climate, we know the threat of wildfire smoke isn’t a short-term problem,” said agency Division of Occupational Safety and Health Assistant Director Craig Blackwood said.
The new rule requires employers to take a variety of actions depending on the amount of smoke in the air.
When smoke particulate matter reaches the following parts per million, employers with workers outdoors are required to do the following:
69 – Implement a smoke response plan and training. Provide emergency response measure for workers getting sick from the smoke.
101 – Provide respirators for voluntary use. Implement smoke exposure controls.
301 – Distribute respirators to workers for voluntary use. Relocate sick workers to “clean” air locations.
500 – Require workers to wear respirators
Under the new rule, employers cannot prevent workers showing smoke-related illness to seek medical attention.