Outdoor worker protections
The Wildfire Smoke emergency rule provides protection for personnel working outdoors for more than one hour who may be reasonably expected to be exposed to wildfire smoke. The rule identifies two action levels to protect personnel when air quality worsens.
Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 69
When the AQI is at 69 or higher in the location where outdoor work is occurring, the University is responsible for:
- Communicating wildfire smoke hazards
- Providing training regarding wildfire smoke
- Provide respiratory protection to employees upon request
Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 101
When the AQI is at 101 or higher in the location where outdoor work is occurring, University units must implement exposure controls where feasible. Such controls may include:
- Providing work and/or rest areas in enclosed buildings, structures, or vehicles where the air is effectively filtered
- Providing portable air cleaners in enclosed areas
- Relocating work indoors or to an outdoor location with a lower AQI
- Changing work schedules so that outdoor work can occur when the AQI is lower
- Reducing the amount of work that involves physical exertion
- Providing additional rest periods
- Monitoring personnel for exposure symptoms; refer to the symptoms list in the frequently asked questions section of this page.
When the AQI is at 101 or higher, the University unit must provide respirators at no cost to personnel exposed to wildfire smoke.
- Respirators must be NIOSH-approved devices that effectively protect the wearers from inhalation of particles at the 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) size, such as N95 filtering facepiece respirators (KN95 respirators not allowed).
- Respirators shall be cleaned, stored, maintained, and replaced so that they do not present a health hazard to the user.
When PM 2.5 reaches 555 µg/m3 (Beyond AQI)
When the airborne concentration of PM2.5 is 555 or more micrograms of gaseous pollutant per cubic meter of ambient air (ug/m3), UW personnel must be enrolled in the respiratory protection program. Personnel must be provided and are required to wear one of the following respirators equipped with high efficiency particulate air filters:
- Loose-fitting powered air-purifying respirator; or
- Full-facepiece air-purifying respirator; or
- Full-facepiece powered air-purifying respirator; or
- Other respirators that are at least effective.
The following items do not provide adequate respiratory protection from wildfire smoke:
- Surgical masks
- Cloth face coverings