Permanent Smoke Regulation Imminent as Timeline Shortens

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

Permanent Smoke Regulation

A permanent smoke regulation from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is moving forward and industry members have until May 21 to provide comments.  The Cal/OSHA Standards Board has released the proposed ‘Protection from Wildfire Smoke’ rule, which would replace the emergency regulation that was originally enacted in July 2019.

“At their March meeting [the Standards Board] made the decision to do that third and final readoption that carries the emergency regulation through the middle of July,” said AgSafe President and CEO Emeritus Amy Wolfe.  “It looks like as of a couple of days ago they’ve decided to now hear the proposed permanent wildfire smoke regulation coming up at their May meeting.”

The permanent smoke regulation is largely similar to the standards established in the emergency rule.  While there were discussions of lowering the air quality threshold, the permanent rule maintains a trigger point of 151 on the Air Quality Index.  The proposed rule also states that employers “shall provide a sufficient number of respirators to all employees for voluntary use,” which presents an issue for employers as COVID-19 has severely limited the availability of respirators.  “It is essential that agricultural employers pay close attention to the new proposed rule as well as take advantage of their opportunity to provide input to the Standards Board,” Wolfe noted.

The written comment period will close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, the day that the Standards Board’s public hearing is scheduled in the Council Chambers of the Rancho Cordova City Hall.  Industry member comments can be made electronically by emailing the Standards Board directly, or through traditional mail, or by phone. 

“Personally, I think email is the best approach, it ensures your comments are provided in writing. You have a record of it,” Wolfe noted.  “We’ve got a little bit of time in preparation for that May meeting for folks to weigh-in on the impact that this permanent regulation will have on their operation.”

Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West