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Wildfires pose a threat of workplace illness

Summer in Southern California means wildfire season. While the fires are very dangerous to the trees and structures in the immediate vicinity of the fire, there are also dangers from the smoke that can affect the air quality in surrounding areas. Cal/OSHA advises that special precautions must be taken by employers whose workers may be exposed to these dangers. These measures are to help prevent workplace illness that may result from exposure to smoke from wildfires.

These protections include engineering controls such as filtration systems for inside work areas. Workers who must spend time outside should have access to dust masks designed specifically to filter the particulate matter found in smoke. If the air quality in a work area is deemed unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous, respiratory equipment is necessary.

Cal/OSHA strives to protect California workers from hazards relating to wildfires. Workers should familiarize themselves with their workplace safety procedures related to wildfires. Workers should follow those procedures.

Being aware of the risks posed by exposure to smoke resulting from wildfires in California may be able to help a person avoid contracting a smoke related illness. However, regardless of how well prepared a person may think he or she is, a workplace illness can still occur. If a person does contract a smoke related illness or injury, speaking with an experienced workers' compensation attorney may prove beneficial. A knowledgeable attorney can inform a person of his or her rights to workers' compensation benefits. A lawyer can help in determining if a person has a viable workers' compensation claim and advise him or her on the best path to pursue.

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