Oregon OSHA Wildfire Smoke Protection Requirements


The newly adopted Oregon OSHA Temporary Rule on Protection from Wildlife Smoke which went into effect on July 1, 2022 uses the local air quality index (AQI) for PM2.5 to determine when worker protections are needed. The new rule applies to University of Portland employees that are or will be exposed to wildfire smoke above AQI of 101. Workplaces that are enclosed buildings and structures in which air is filtered by a mechanical ventillation system, or enclosed vehichles in which the air is filtered by a cabin air filter, or if an employer predetermines that operations will be suspended to prevent employee exposure are exempt from this rule. 

How to Check the Air Quality in Your Area

The air quality in your area can be checked online through either the government's Air Now application or IQAir. During wildifire events Environmental Health and Safety monitors and Physical Plant monitor's the air quality for campus. 

Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke

Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant material, which can be dangerous if inhaled. In wildfires, carbon monoxide is a risk to firefighters who work near smoldering areas. Smoke can irritate your eyes and and your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The amount and length of smoke exposure, as well the person's age and health conditions, play a role in determining if someone will experience smoke-related health problems. 

Symptoms of Wildfire Smoke

  • Eyes-burning, redness, tearing, irritation, inflammation
  • Respiratory system-runny nose, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, sinus irritation, wheezing, shortness of breath
  • Fatigue, headache, irregular heartbeat, chest pain

Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing health conditions and those who are particularly sensitive to air pollution. Sensitive groups include: 

  • Persons with asthma or other chronic respiratory disease 
  • Persons with cardiovascular disease 
  • Persons ≥ 65 years of age 
  • Infants and children 
  • Pregnant woman 
  • Smokers, especially those who have smoked for several years

Emergency Response

In an emergency situation call 911 and call Campus Safety (503-943-4444). When in doubt call 911. Let the dispatcher know this is a wildfire smoke related illness and provide clear and precise directions to the location of the individual suffering the illness. Administer appropriate first aid, provide cool drinking water, and move the individual to an indoor area with mechanical ventilation if it is possible to do so before medical responders arrive. Notify your supervisor and report the incident to Human Resources as soon as possible via the Report of Injury Form


Exposure Control Measures

University of Portland will modify operations when the AQI reaches or exceeds unhealthy levels. Individuals working outside or inside without mechanical air will have access to N95 respirators. If you have reason to believe you will need to provide services during a wildfire event, please contact EHS to arrange for N95 use.

If AQI reaches 251, the use of filtering facemasks will be required, however a fit test is not necessary for employees using these respirators.

If the AQI reaches 501 then a fit test will be required for employees to use a respirator, including N95 masks. University of Portland will provide alternative respiratory protection devices on an individual basis. If you will provide services during a wildfire event where the AQI may reach 501, please contact EHS to schedule a fit test if you have not had one in the last calendar year.