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Protect workers from wildfire smoke: Washington L&I has resources

Photo: milehightraveler/gettyimages

Tumwater, WA — The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries is reminding employers about the tools available on its Wildfire Smoke webpage.

The state’s permanent rules on wildfire smoke, which went into effect Jan. 15, are intended to protect workers from fine particles contained in wildfire smoke that can reach the deepest part of the lungs.

To help employers comply with the new rules, Washington L&I’s webpage features a training kit, a template for a wildfire smoke response plan and air quality information. The page also has sections on general wildfire smoke safety, workers’ compensation and topic-specific information, including for firefighters and agricultural workers.

Further, Washington L&I encourages employers and workers to watch Oregon OSHA’s video on how to put on and use an N95 respirator.

“Bandanas, scarves, facemasks, KN95s, or T-shirts worn over the nose and mouth will not provide protection against wildfire smoke,” Washington L&I says. “A NIOSH-approved N95 respirator is the minimum protection from wildfire smoke. Facial hair prevents the respirator from properly sealing to the face and allows smoke into your lungs. Shaving facial hair when using an N95 helps reduce smoke exposure.”

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