California Wild Fire Smoke Regulations

The State of California enacted regulations in 2020 to protect employees from hazards related to wildfire smoke. The regulation ( requires employers to act when the Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter (PM 2.5) is 151 or greater.  See Note below.  Outdoor occupations such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and shops with open layouts are affected.  Also, an employee who spends one hour or more outside over a course of a shift must comply with this regulation.  High traffic areas, such as the showroom, where the front doors are opened frequently are also impacted. For wildfire smoke, use the AQI for PM2.5, which is measurement of fine particles in the air. An AQI over 150 is considered unhealthy for the general population. AQI over 101 can be unhealthy for sensitive groups and some workers with asthma and other conditions may feel unhealthy when the AQI is below 150.                                                               

Exemptions to this regulation:

  • Employer, through measurement, demonstrates that employees working inside a building has a PM2.5 that does not exceed a concentration of AQI of 151.
  • Employees that are exposed to current AQI for PM2.5 of 151 or greater for total of one hour or less during a shift.

Action Needed: At the beginning of the shift and periodically thereafter the employer must check the AQI for PM2.5.  Look for AQI data in real time at and use your zip code.  Smart phones under the Weather app also provide the AQI data.  If employees are exposed to wildfire smoke, then the employer is required to find out the current AQI applicable to the worksite. If the current AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or more, the employer is required to:

  • Check the current AQI before and periodically during each shift.
  • Provide training to employees.
  • Lower employee exposures.
  • Provide respirators and encourage their use.

The action taken by the employer may consist of engineering control and/or administrative controls.  An example of an engineering control would be placing the employees in a building with an air filtration system that reduces the PM 2.5 below 150.  Cal/OSHA standard Title 8 CCR Section 5141.1 lists the enforcement based on the AQI as follows:

  • AQI at or below 150: Generally normal.  Wildfire smoke regulation does not apply.
  • AQI of 151-500: N95 respirator use is voluntary. Employees with certain health conditions need to follow medical guidance
  • AQI exceeds 500: Employees must use N95 respirator with training and management.

Respirators: Respirators must be provided to employees when both engineering and administrative controls are not feasible. The N95 disposable particulate type respirator to be used to protect employees is available for about $1/mask through various distributors.  Safe use, maintainence and product limitations noted on the box of respirators must be reviewed.  Cal/OSHA regulations (Appendix D) has a specific memo on usage of such respirators that must be reviewed as well.

Training: The employees must be trained on the new regulation including the health effects of wildfire smoke.  USE ATTACHED MEMO.  Information at may be utilized to train employees and those at higher risk of health issues related to wildfire smoke.  Training should include how employees can obtain air quality information and medical treatment, if necessary. Employers should establish a method to inform employees about worsening air quality and related adverse health effects.  The public address system at dealership should suffice.

Note: PM2.5 refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two- and one-half microns or less in width. Like inches, meters and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns in an inch. The widths of the larger particles in the PM2.5 size range would be about thirty times smaller than that of a human hair.

DISCLAIMER:  The contents of this newsletter are merely for informational purposes only and are not to be considered as legal advice.   Employers must consult their lawyer for legal matters and EPA/OSHA consultants for matters related to Environmental, Health & Safety. The article was authored by Sam Celly of Celly Services, Inc. who has been helping automobile dealers in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Virginia comply with EPA and OSHA regulations for over 34 years.  Sam is Certified Safety Professional (No. 16515) certified by National Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Sam received his BE (1984) and MS (1986) in Chemical Engineering, followed by a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law (1997).  Our newsletters can be accessed at  Your comments/questions are always welcome.  Please send them to

CDC & California Mask Requirements Update as of July 29

CDC Guidance: Safer Activities for You and Your Family

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic.
  • To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. LA county and certain other CA counties are considered to be in high risk of transmission.
  • Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.

You should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance

July 29, 2021 STATE OF CA: Face masks are required for unvaccinated in indoor settings such as an auto dealership.

July 27, 2021 LA COUNTY and Other jurisdictions:  In certain jurisdictions, including LA County and Sacramento, masks are required to be worn by all persons (visitors and employees) in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

Note: This guidance is effective July 28, 2021 and supersedes all prior face coverings guidance.

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing serious disease. Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected and spread the virus which is transmitted through the air and concentrates indoors. About 15% of our population remains without the option for vaccination (children under 12 years old are not yet eligible) and risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will remain until we reach full community immunity.

The purpose of this guidance is to provide information about higher risk settings where masks are required or recommended to prevent transmission to persons with higher risk of infection (e.g., unvaccinated or immunocompromised persons), to persons with prolonged, cumulative exposures (e.g., workers), or to persons whose vaccination status is unknown. When people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask correctly, they protect others as well as themselves. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors.

With the emergence of the more contagious Delta variant in California which now accounts for over 80% of cases sequenced, cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 are rising throughout the state, especially amongst those that remain unvaccinated. 

Despite ongoing outreach and improving COVID-19 vaccine access, as of July 27, 2021, a significant proportion of Californians throughout the state are not yet fully vaccinated. The Delta variant is two times as contagious than early COVID-19 variants, leading to increasing infections.

In California, unvaccinated persons continue to be required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. This guidance is an update, in light of review of the most recent CDC recommendations. To achieve universal masking in indoor public settings, we are recommending that fully vaccinated people also mask in indoor public settings across California. This adds an extra precautionary measure for all to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, especially in communities currently seeing the highest transmission rates. Local health jurisdictions may be more restrictive than this guidance.

In California, fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in indoor non-public settings, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, not fully vaccinated, or not yet eligible for vaccination. In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.

EXEMPTIONS TO MASK REQUIREMENTS: The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:

  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.




CDC Guidance on masking effective July 27, 2021:

Disclaimer: The contents of this newsletter are merely for informational purposes only and are not to be considered as professional advice. Information from CDC, Fed-OSHA and Cal/OSHA was used to prepare part of this newsletter.  Employers must consult their lawyer for legal matters and safety consultants for matters related to safety.  The article was authored by Sam Celly of Celly Services, Inc. who has been helping automobile dealers comply with EPA & OSHA regulations since 1987.  Sam received his BE (1984) and MS (1986) in Chemical Engineering followed by a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law (1997).  Our newsletters can be accessed at  Your comments/questions are always welcome.  Please send them to