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Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 16. Control of Hazardous Substances
Article 107. Dusts, Fumes, Mists, Vapors and Gases

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§5141.1 Protection from Wildfire Smoke.

(a) Scope.
(1) This section applies to workplaces where:
(A) The current Air Quality Index (current AQI) for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, regardless of the AQI for other pollutants; and
(B) The employer should reasonably anticipate that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke.
(2) The following workplaces and operations are exempt from this section:
(A) Enclosed buildings or structures in which the air is filtered by a mechanical ventilation system and the employer ensures that windows, doors, bays, and other openings are kept closed to minimize contamination by outdoor or unfiltered air.
(B) Enclosed vehicles in which the air is filtered by a cabin air filter and the employer ensures that windows, doors, and other openings are kept closed to minimize contamination by outdoor or unfiltered air.
(C) The employer demonstrates that the concentration of PM2.5 in the air does not exceed a concentration that corresponds to a current AQI of 151 or greater by measuring PM2.5 levels at the worksite in accordance with Appendix A.
(D) Employees exposed to a current AQI for PM2.5 of 151 or greater for a total of one hour or less during a shift.
(E) Firefighters engaged in wildland firefighting.
(3) For workplaces covered by this section, an employer that complies with this section will be considered compliant with sections 5141 and 5155 for the limited purpose of exposures to a current AQI for PM2.5 of 151 or greater from wildfire smoke.
(b) Definitions.
Current Air Quality Index (Current AQI). The method used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to report air quality on a real-time basis. Current AQI is also referred to as the “NowCast,” and represents data collected over time periods of varying length in order to reflect present conditions as accurately as possible.
The current AQI is divided into six categories as shown in the table below, adapted from Table 2 of Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 58, Appendix G.
Air Quality Index (AQI)
Categories for PM2.5
Levels of Health Concern
0 to 50
51 to 100
101 to 150
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
151 to 200
201 to 300
Very Unhealthy
301 to 500
NIOSH. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH tests and approves respirators for use in the workplace.
PM2.5. Solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in air, known as particulate matter, with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller.
Wildfire Smoke. Emissions from fires in “wildlands,” as defined in Title 8, section 3402, or in adjacent developed areas.
(c) Identification of harmful exposures. The employer shall determine employee exposure to PM2.5 for worksites covered by this section before each shift and periodically thereafter, as needed to protect the health of the employee, by any of the following methods:
(1) Check AQI forecasts and the current AQI for PM2.5 from any of the following: U.S. EPA AirNow website, U.S. Forest Service Wildland Air Quality Response Program website, California Air Resources Board website, local air pollution control district website, or local air quality management district website; or
(2) Obtain AQI forecasts and the current AQI for PM2.5 directly from the EPA, California Air Resources Board, local air pollution control district, or local air quality management district by telephone, email, text, or other effective method; or
(3) Measure PM2.5 levels at the worksite and convert the PM2.5 levels to the corresponding AQI in accordance with Appendix A.
EXCEPTION: Subsection (c) does not apply where an employer assumes the current AQI for PM2.5 is greater than 500 and uses that assumption to comply with subsection (f)(4)(B).
(d) Communication. As required by section 3203, the employer shall establish and implement a system for communicating wildfire smoke hazards in a form readily understandable by all affected employees, including provisions designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of wildfire smoke hazards at the worksite without fear of reprisal. The system shall include effective procedures for:
(1) Informing employees of:
(A) The current AQI for PM2.5 as identified in subsection (c); and
(B) Protective measures available to employees to reduce their wildfire smoke exposures.
(2) Encouraging employees to inform the employer of:
(A) Worsening air quality; and
(B) Any adverse symptoms that may be the result of wildfire smoke exposure such as asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.
(e) Training and instruction. As required by section 3203, the employer shall provide employees with effective training and instruction. At a minimum, this shall contain the information in Appendix B.
(f) Control of harmful exposures to employees.
(1) In emergencies, including rescue and evacuation, subsections (f)(2) and (f)(3) do not apply, and employers shall comply with subsection (f)(4). Emergencies include utilities, communications, and medical operations, when such operations are directly aiding firefighting or emergency response.
(2) Engineering Controls. The employer shall reduce employee exposure to PM2.5 to less than a current AQI of 151 by engineering controls whenever feasible, for instance by providing enclosed buildings, structures, or vehicles where the air is filtered. If engineering controls are not sufficient to reduce exposure to PM2.5 to less than a current AQI of 151, then the employer shall reduce employee exposures as much as feasible.
(3) Administrative Controls. Whenever engineering controls are not feasible or do not reduce employee exposures to PM2.5 to less than a current AQI of 151, the employer shall implement administrative controls, if practicable, such as relocating work to a location where the current AQI for PM2.5 is lower, changing work schedules, reducing work intensity, or providing additional rest periods.
(4) Control by Respiratory Protective Equipment.
(A) Where the current AQI for PM2.5 is equal to or greater than 151, but does not exceed 500, the employer shall provide respirators to all employees for voluntary use in accordance with section 5144 and encourage employees to use respirators. Respirators shall be NIOSH-approved devices that effectively protect the wearers from inhalation of PM2.5, such as N95 filtering facepiece respirators. Respirators shall be cleaned, stored, maintained, and replaced so that they do not present a health hazard to users. Employers shall use Appendix B to this section in lieu of Appendix D to section 5144 for training regarding voluntary use of respirators.
NOTE: For voluntary use of filtering facepieces, such as N95 respirators, some of the requirements of section 5144 do not apply, such as fit testing and medical evaluations.
(B) Where the current AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500, respirator use is required in accordance with section 5144. The employer shall provide respirators with an assigned protection factor, as listed in section 5144, such that the PM2.5 levels inside the respirator correspond to an AQI less than 151.
Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 142.3 and 144.6, Labor Code.
1. New section filed 7-29-2019 as an emergency; operative 7-29-2019 (Register 2019, No. 31). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 1-27-2020 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

Appendix A - Protection from Wildfire Smoke Measuring PM2.5 Levels at the Worksite (Mandatory if an Employer Monitors with a Direct Reading Instrument)
Appendix B - Protection from Wildfire Smoke Information to Be Provided to Employees (Mandatory)

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