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News & Press: Regulatory/CAL OSHA Issues

Cal / OSHA Finally Issues Guidance on Respirators and Wildfire Smoke

Tuesday, September 29, 2020   (0 Comments)
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After months of questioning by employer representatives including CALPASC Director of Risk Management Bruce Wick, Cal/OSHA has come up with some level of guidance on using respirators to protect employees from wildfire smoke, when the AQI for PM 2.5 is over 150 but less than 500.

Face masks, face coverings, surgical masks, and bandannas offer no protection from Wildfire Smoke. Employers have faced the issue of lack of availability of N95 respirators, which are the minimal requirement for protection from wildfire smoke. Obviously N95 respirators have been in short supply, and have been dedicated to healthcare workers and first responders up to now.

Cal/OSHA has now provided three guidance documents:

The first document outlines a group of vendors who purport to have N95 respirators available, with quantities of at least 100,000. CALPASC members can review this list, and check the actual availability by clicking here.

The second document advises how employers can strategize for wildfire smoke protection. It advised that while N95 respirators are optimal, an employer who finds them unavailable can utilize certain KN95 respirators, but only up to 175 AQI for PM 2.5. In reviewing the document, it is important to understand that strategies 3.0 through 5.0 contemplate only N95 respirators. Strategy 6.0 will advise what types of KN95 can be used as alternatives when N95 respirators are unavailable. At the bottom of the document is a list of KN95 respirators that are supposed to be an equivalent protection. KN95 respirators have varying degrees of protection. To read the article, click here.

The third document advises how manufacturers can get approval of their respirators by Cal/OSHA. To read the article, click here.

Any questions contact CALPASC Director of Risk Management Bruce Wick at 760-535-9623, or

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