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Oregon OSHA coordinating distribution of particulate respirators in light of wildfire smoke and emergency requirements

For immediate release

Aug. 13, 2021

Contact information

​​​Aaron Corvin, Public Information Officer
971-718-6973, aaron.corvin@dcbs.​oregon.gov
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Salem, OR — Oregon OSHA is working with several partners to distribute hundreds of thousands of particulate respirators to employers to help protect their workers in light of their new obligations under an emergency wildfire smoke rule.

The division is working with the Oregon Homebuilders Association, the Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter, and Hoffman Construction to create distribution sites for employers to obtain free KN-95 and N-95 particulate respirators. At the same time, Oregon OSHA is coordinating with the Oregon Department of Agriculture on the distribution of such respirators to agricultural employers.

The work remains under way. Future updates will be available online. The following is a current list of contact information for partners who are helping distribute respirators at certain locations:

  • Oregon Homebuilders Association
    • Jordan Schultz
    • jordan@oregonhba.com
    • 503-378-9066, ext. 2
    • Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday 
  • Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter
  • Hoffman Construction (Portland-area only)
    • Robyn Sims
    • Robyn-Sims@Hoffmancorp.com
    • 503-438-4964
    • Interested people need to call or email for confirmation of pickup; open hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).

Meanwhile, Oregon State University Extension offices continue to support Oregon’s farmers and ranchers by offering free particulate respirators around the state. Find a local office at: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/find-us 

While the state’s supplies last, the particulate respirators are intended to be distributed to employers when wildfire smoke events trigger Oregon OSHA’s emergency temporary rule. The maximum number of respirators allowed to be received is four per employee.

Oregon OSHA’s rule applies to employers whose employees are – or will be – exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for the fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) is at or above an Air Quality Index (AQI) 101, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

Sensitive groups include people with lung and heart problems; children younger than 18 and adults older than 65; pregnant women; and people with diabetes.

Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the temporary wildfire smoke rule, which took effect Aug. 9 and remains in effect for 180 days. The division offers free and confidential consultations, and technical advice – involving no citations, no penalties, and no fault – to help employers understand the requirements.

Moreover, Oregon OSHA provides free online training to help employers meet certain training requirements found in the temporary wildfire smoke rule. The training is available in English and Spanish. Topics covered include the importance, limitations, and benefits of using a particulate respirator, and how to properly wear one. 

For the 2021 season, KN-95 particulate respirators previously approved under federal emergency use authorization can be substituted for respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for exposures below AQI 499. For exposures of AQI 500 and above, NIOSH-approved respirators (what are commonly known as N-95s) must be used. 

There are counterfeit KN-95 respirators on the market, so it is important to choose one from the list of models that Oregon OSHA considers acceptable for substitution during the 2021 season. To review the list, visit Filtering respirators acceptable for use in Oregon under temporary rule protecting workers against wildfire smoke.

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. 

Consultation, technical advice, educational and other resources

Oregon OSHA offers 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 and confidential 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 resources include:

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About Oregon OSHA:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

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