PORTLAND — State workplace and public health officials are urging employers to stop or delay outdoor work where they can and take other reasonable steps to protect workers when air quality reaches the unhealthy zone, or worse.
Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces, and recognizing and addressing hazards to workers — including unsafe air quality that is expected to continue through the weekend, according to a press release from officials at Oregon Occupational Safety and Health and Oregon Health Authority.
That responsibility includes:
• Closing outdoor work activity when air quality in an area becomes “unhealthy,” or reaches an Air Quality Index of at least 151.
• Allowing workers with underlying health conditions to stay home.
• Rearranging work schedules, hours and tasks in a way that enables workers to get relief from smoky outdoor air.
• Providing N95 masks, where and when appropriate, and informing workers of their proper use and care.
“During this incredibly challenging and evolving emergency, we are encouraging employers — particularly those with outdoor operations — to take all reasonable and necessary precautions and steps to ensure the safety of their employees,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA.
Health officials also encouraged workers to raise health and safety issues with employers, including through their safety committees. Workers who are worried or believe their concerns are not being addressed may file a complaint with Oregon OSHA.
Indoor air quality also may become a concern. Employers and workers should check a building’s ventilation system to make sure it has received routine maintenance, such as filter changes.