5 Things to Consider When Selecting an Air Monitor for Cal/OSHA

<p>5 Things to Consider When Selecting an Air Monitor for Cal/OSHA</p>

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Last Updated

04 April 2024


25 January 2023



When working in proximity to wildfire smoke, airborne chemicals and fine particles can enter the lungs, putting worker health and safety at risk. To combat unsafe practices and protect worker well-being, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in California (better known as Cal/OSHA) has established a set of strict wildfire smoke regulations.

Approved by the Office of Administrative Law, Cal/OSHA’s wildfire smoke regulations place a duty of care on the employer to protect workers, “where the employer should reasonably anticipate that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke.”

This includes provisions where employers must:

  • Identify harmful exposure to airborne particulate matter from wildfire smoke at the start of each shift and periodically thereafter by checking the AQI for PM2.5 in regions where workers are located.

  •  Reduce harmful exposure to wildfire smoke if feasible. For example, by relocating work to an enclosed building with filtered air or to an outdoor location where the AQI for PM2.5 is 150 or lower.

Selecting an appropriate air quality monitor is crucial to meeting regulations and maintaining worker health. These five features will help you obtain, accurate, defensible wildfire smoke data from anywhere, enabling you to act fast and ensure everybody gets home safe.

Hyper-local data

Access to hyper-local air quality data is critical for complying with Cal/OSHA regulations and protecting workers from wildfire smoke pollution. Reference stations may be located a fair distance away from the work site, making the data hard to trust in all circumstances. The most effective way to measure pollution from local wildfire sources, while accounting for any microclimate effects, is via a ‘direct reading’ instrument (or handheld device). Measuring PM levels at your particular location ensures optimal data relevancy, enabling you to make informed decisions, backed by accurate, defensible data.

Simultaneous measurement of multiple particle fractions

When PM levels rise above safe limits, breathing the air can lead to lung irritation, inflammation of asthma or existing heart conditions, or even be fatal. To protect worker health, Cal/OSHA regulations require Air Quality Index (AQI) levels for PM2.5 (airborne particulate with a diameter of 2.5 microns or smaller) to be kept below a reading of 150. Failure to follow Cal/OSHA guidelines could lead to fines, shutdowns, or even permanent suspension of operations. When selecting an air quality monitoring system for measuring wildfire smoke, make sure your device accurately tracks PM2.5, in addition to other forms of particulate that make up the definitions of respirable and inhalable dust.


Real-time monitoring

Protecting workers from wildfire smoke requires fast decision-making and up-to-the-minute awareness of air quality trends. With a real-time monitoring system, you’ll receive instant notifications sent direct to your mobile device if pollution levels rise above safe limits. Act decisively when needed and reassure employees when it’s safe to resume work, reducing delays and improving operational efficiency. Without real-time monitoring, you’ll need to manually check monitoring stations at regular intervals or rely on reference data from far-off monitors. In either case, it will be challenging to maintain accurate, up-to-the-minute data, leaving workers vulnerable. Ensure you’re providing adequate care under Cal/OSHA rules, eliminate the guesswork and take immediate action by choosing a monitoring system equipped with real-time alerts.

Cloud-capable solution

In selecting an appropriate monitoring solution, it’s advisable to look for a cloud-capable device, one that enables you to access your data from anywhere. Under Cal/OSHA rules, if PM2.5 exposure rises above an AQI of 150, respirators (e.g., N95 masks) must be provided for voluntary use, along with suitable training. Any undue delay can increase the exposure risk for workers and lead to a breach of regulations. Cloud-capable monitoring systems (such as Ranger Cloud) firm up the sort of swift decision-making required to meet your health and safety obligations and protect workers from harm.

Correct calibration

Under Cal/OSHA regulations, all devices and accessories must be correctly calibrated and maintained as per the manufacturer's instructions. This helps ensure accurate readings, reassuring workers and effectively safeguarding them from poor-quality air. With an Aeroqual monitoring system, you can be confident in the accuracy of your device thanks to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable calibration. In addition, we make the process of factory calibration easy, thanks to our Aeroqual Hot-swap Service. When you’re due for a new calibration certificate, we’ll send you a freshly calibrated module and you send the old one back to us. No downtime. No delay.

Want to know more?

Talk to our expert team about your wildfire smoke monitoring needs and we’ll recommend the perfect solution for you. Check out our Cal/OSHA Wildfire Smoke Monitoring Kit, Aeroqual Ranger – our cloud-connected portable monitoring solution – or get in touch!

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