How to reduce impact of hazardous wildfire smoke at work
SAIF offers ten considerations for reducing smoke exposure in the workplace.
posted September 10, 2020
With several days of hazardous smoke conditions in the forecast, SAIF wants to make sure workplaces are as safe as possible.
“This was already a difficult time for Oregon businesses, and we know wildfire smoke is now another significant concern,” said David Johnson, industrial hygiene supervisor at SAIF. “There are simple things any business can do to reduce the impact the poor air quality has on employees.”
In addition to a brief video on quick tips, here are ten things to consider during a wildfire smoke event-and balancing it with a pandemic:
- Reduce outdoor air flow: Shut down outside air intakes and adjust your air conditioning to use recirculated air. While the precaution for COVID-19 is to increase outdoor air flow, that should not be the case when the outdoor air quality is considered hazardous.
- Change your HVAC filters: Consider also using a HEPA-rated room air filtration unit.
- Keep windows and doors closed: Reduce entering and exiting the building.
- Re-assign work: If possible, relocate or re-assign outdoor activities out of the smoke zone.
- Cease work: If the air quality and/or visibility presents health and safety hazards, consider closing or stopping specific job functions.
- Communicate frequently with employees and customers: Let them know about any changes to your schedule, operations, or availability.
- Monitor communication channels: This includes the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority.
- Consider providing masks: While N-95 masks are in short supply, other face masks will provide some protection, including N-99 or N-100.
- Reduce other pollutants: Cut down on other sources of air pollutants, like vacuuming and cooking indoors, or smoking and burning fuel outdoors.
- Update your plan: Once the smoke has cleared, consider adding wildfire smoke events to your emergency response and business continuity plans.
SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit workers' compensation insurance company. Since 1914, we've been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.