Southern California Fires, October 2006

The fires raging through seven counties in Southern California have burnt through thousands of acres and have resulted in widespread loss to property.  The intense smoke and ash generated by the fires have resulted in health & safety issues that must be addressed by the employers.  A brief summary of the concerns and the employer response is as follows:

  1. Service The Air-Conditioning System: The ash generated from the fires will load up the filters on your HVAC system.  Please have your filters replaced and cleaned as necessary.  If the maintenance service is due, schedule it promptly.  Keeping your filters clean will ensure clean air flowing through the dealership.
  2. Watery Eyes: Due to extra smoke and ash particulates in the air, employees will encounter watery eyes.  You can provide employees with Kleenex type tissue so they can address watery eyes.  If employees were to use dirty hands to rub their eyes, the irritation can get worse.
  3. Smoke Irritation: Certain employees may get irritation to their nose and/or throat from the excessive ash and smoke.  Please provide employees with Kleenex tissue as described above.  Also, providing the paper-masks routinely used by employees in the shop area can make things easier for employees that show a higher degree of susceptibility to ash and smoke.
  4. Mop Your Floor: The fine ash falling on the floors will make them slippery.  Please have the floors wet-mopped often.  This will minimize the possibility of ash related slickness on the floors at the facility and prevent employees from slipping and falling.
  5. Clean Your Light Fixtures. The ash falling on light fixtures will make them less effective.  Clean your light fixtures frequently to maintain the level of illumination.  Lowered levels of illumination can contribute to accidents.

In summary, keep the facility clean and provide assistance to employees that may be affected by smoke and ash flying around the workplace.  Last but not the least, keep alert to local news and broadcasts to determine if evacuation is necessary for your facility.  Safety issues related to evacuation of the facility due to fires in your neighborhood are best coordinated with the local fire department and other regulatory agencies.

Download: October 2006 Newsletter

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