We’ve been hearing reports that many are being forced to work outdoors—in areas directly affected by the fires—with no respirators or masks of any kind. Given the extremely harmful air quality caused by these catastrophic fires, such activity is completely unacceptable and likely a direct violation of an employer’s legal responsibility to protect workers from known hazards. In addition, given the unprecedented number of structures burned, the chemical makeup of this air is potentially even more harmful than that usually seen in wildfire-afflicted regions.
Mitch Steiger is a legislative advocate at the California Labor Federation. Email him at email@example.com.