Outdoor workers in California are familiar with the threats posed by the harsh heat of the sun every summer. However, with the many devastating fires raging across the state, workers are now also exposed to the hazards of smoke. While poor air quality and inhalation of smoke can cause serious workplace injuries through illness, it was observed that outdoor workers appeared a whole lot better prepared for the problems associated with heat exposure.
Although the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued advisories and safety guidelines to protect workers in wildfire areas, outdoor workers in the entire state are now at risk. Along with workers in agriculture, construction, logging and transportation, others at risk include employees of landscapers and tree services, outdoor restaurant facilities and more. While some of these industries can limit the times that employees spend outdoors, others have no option.
A Cal/OSHA spokesperson noted that employers must monitor air quality. When the Air Quality Index reaches the level of 151, employees must be provided with masks or respirators. If safety inspectors come across exposed workers where air quality is hazardous, employers might be fined.
Wildfire smoke can cause severe health hazards that could have long-term consequences. Along with medical expenses, victims of such workplace injuries might be unable to return to work for an extended period. They are likely eligible to claim benefits from the California workers' compensation insurance program. The support and guidance of an experienced attorney is available to simplify the complicated claims process.