Salem, OR — Employers now have a free and flexible resource to help them comply with rules aimed at protecting workers from wildfire smoke, thanks to an interactive online training course developed by Oregon OSHA.
The course –
Wildfire Smoke Training Requirements – is designed to help employers meet certain training requirements found in Oregon OSHA’s emergency temporary rule, which addresses wildfire smoke in the workplace.
“We encourage employers to take advantage of this free training resource, which will help them better understand and carry out our rule,” said Roy Kroker, consultation and public education manager for Oregon OSHA. “And it provides an opportunity for employers to enhance their existing training programs.”
The temporary rule addressing wildfire smoke took effect Aug. 9 and will remain in effect for 180 days. The rule requires employers to comply with employee training provisions by Aug. 16. They must do so for employees who may be exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) is at or above an
Air Quality Index (AQI) 101, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Moreover, employers must ensure workers who may be exposed to AQI 101 have been trained in a manner and language they understand.
The training requirement applies unless the employer predetermines that operations involving wildfire smoke exposure will be suspended before employees are exposed to an AQI 101.
The online training course covers six of the 10 required training elements. They are:
- Symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure
- Potential health effects of wildfire smoke
- The definition of sensitive groups
- Employees’ rights
- How to access the AQI
- The importance, limitations, and benefits of using a filtering facepiece respirator (commonly known as an N95), and how to properly wear one
The remaining four required training elements are based on each employer’s operational practices. They must be covered by the employer. Those elements are: steps to take when an employee is sick from exposure to wildfire smoke; how to operate air quality monitoring devices supplied by the employer; methods to protect employees from wildfire smoke; and a communication system for wildfire smoke hazards.
Oregon OSHA’s online training course takes about an hour to complete. It features graphics and links to more resources to help employers achieve full compliance with the rule. It offers an opportunity to obtain a certificate of completion. On the training course’s
webpage, the course is also available to instructors as a PowerPoint.
A Spanish-language version of the training course will be available soon.
Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the
temporary wildfire smoke rule. Workers have a
right to a safe and healthy workplace. That includes the right to raise concerns
free from retaliation and to
file a complaint with Oregon OSHA.
In addition to its
online training courses, the division offers the following free resources – involving
no citations, no penalties, and no fault – to help employers comply with workplace health and safety requirements. They include:
Consultation services – Provides free help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training
Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites
Also, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which includes Oregon OSHA, maintains the Multicultural Communications Program that provides outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. That outreach encompasses information about on-the-job safety and health. The program includes a toll-free phone number for Spanish speakers: 800-843-8086.
Other wildfire smoke resources include: