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Rulemaking to Protect Employees from Unhealthy Levels of Wildfire Smoke

Overview

On March 10, 2020, Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-04 (EO 20-04) that provides directives to certain state agencies in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and mitigate the impacts of climate change. EO 20-04 includes a directive to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon OSHA to jointly develop a proposal for standards to protect employees from workplace exposures to excessive heat and wildfire smoke. In response to EO 20-04, Oregon OSHA, in collaboration with the OHA, advisory committees, and stakeholders, will work towards developing two separate proposed standards.

Protection from Unhealthy Levels of Wildfire Smoke

Smoke from wildfires is composed of harmful gases and fine particles that can present a significant health hazard to workers exposed to it. These health hazards can continue after fires have been extinguished and cleanup activities begin. The potentially detrimental health effects from exposure to unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke can affect anyone, but workers with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or heart disease are at higher risk of serious or fatal health effects when their condition is exacerbated from exposure to wildfire smoke.

Contact Information:

Tom.Bozicevic@oregon.gov

Theodore.Bunch@oregon.gov

Meetings

Meeting Schedule: PDF  or Calendar 

Note: We have cancelled the meeting scheduled for 7/29/21 on heat/smoke, and postpone the discussion to the following meeting, which is August 19, 2021.

Over the next several months, Oregon OSHA will be holding virtual meetings for both rulemaking efforts with advisory committees and stakeholders to gather information and begin drafting new occupational health standards on both preventing outdoor heat-related illness and protection from unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke. Stakeholders encouraged to participate in either or both rulemaking activities include, but are not limited to, individuals representing outdoor work operations such as crop-production agriculture, landscape construction and maintenance, wildland firefighting, forest activities, most construction, and demolition work. Meetings will focus on the following discussion points:

  • Identification of potentially harmful levels to worker exposures;
  • Engineering, administrative, and personal protection equipment controls to address potentially harmful exposures;
  • Employee training and instruction; and
  • Potential fiscal impacts of proposed rule requirements.



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