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Washington State Updates its Wildfire Smoke Rules

25 Feb

Update Applicable to:Effective date
All employers unless exemptJanuary 15, 2024

What happened?

Washington State has updated its wildfire and smoke rules to better address smoke hazards and effectively mitigate the risks posed to individuals.

What are the details?

Washington considers exposure to wildfire smoke a hazard from which employers have a duty to protect employees while working.

Under the new regulations, employers must take the following actions to ensure compliance:

(1) Implement a Wildfire Smoke Response Plan (WSRP):

  • This must be done within the written Accident Prevention Plan (APP).
  • The WSRP must be in place before work begins where an employee is exposed to a PM2.5 of 20.5 µg/m3 (AQI 69) or more.
  • Must include all of the following Link.
  • It is recommended to include this requirement as an addendum and not a section to the APP.

(2) Train employees in the WSRP

  • This training must be done annually.
  • Must cover the WSRP contents, as well as effective implementation, expectations of the employer, protections of employees, and how to use personal protective equipment, especially respirator use, maintenance, and location.
  • How supervisors should proceed in case of an emergency.

(3) Monitor the air quality at jobsites.

  • Employers must be able to communicate with their employees the current PM2.5 at any given time (and vice versa).
  • The new regulations require different levels of employee protection based on the PM2.5 at any time. 
  • To determine the PM2.5  employer can consult the Washington Department of Ecology or any of these sources
  • Make provisions in advance for employees who display symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure to receive prompt medical attention without reprisal.

The following Table provides a summary of the key requirements of the rule, but it is not an exhaustive list (Page 12, Chapter 296-820 WAC).

Business Considerations

  • Consider wildfire smoke the same as any other jobsite hazard where compliance with the regulations is required.
  • Create or update your Accident Prevention Plan and incorporate the Wildfire Smoke Response Plan to ensure appropriate care towards employees. It is recommended to include it as an addendum to your existing plan.
  • Communicate and train your employees in the WSRP and equipment to ensure a proper response according to the level of danger.
  • Plan for the wildfire season to provide appropriate tools and action items to your employees, such as respirators and fire extinguishers (make sure you conduct safety training prior to the wildfire season).


Source References

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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