Wildfire Smoke

Introduction

During the smoke/fire season (May – November) in the Pacific Northwest, our area can sometimes become inundated with harmful levels of smoke.  PLU EH&S and Risk Services will monitor smoke levels and predictions prior to the start of the morning shift and frequently throughout the day, in order to notify community members of existing or impending risk.  Be alert to warnings from supervisors and co-workers regarding smoke predictions for the region.

Wildfire smoke contains many hazardous chemicals. It can affect the lungs, worsening conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and pneumonia. Wildfire smoke can also affect the heart, and increase the risk of heart attack.  This Plan provides instruction and procedures to ensure the safety of those working at PLU, based on the requirements of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 296-62-085.

Not everyone exposed to smoke will be affected in the same way. Factors such as the amount of smoke, duration of exposure, and level of physical exertion will influence how workers feel on-the-job. The following groups and conditions can create a higher risk:

  • Workers with diabetes, heart, or lung disease
  • Workers under 18 and 65 or older
  • Pregnant workers
  • Hazardous work, such as working at height or operating heavy machinery may be harder to complete safely if workers have respiratory and heat symptoms or reduced visibility.