Farm Evacuations and Smoke Problems
As we have been reporting - wildfires continue to burn out West.
Farmers and Ranchers have been dealing with extremely poor air quality - for weeks now - all the while wondering if they might be forced to evacuate. There are any number of issues to consider if that happens - such as where and how to move animals. Farmers on the other hand know - evacuation means losing your crop.
And it's not just about evacuations...David Hornung with OSHA’s Heat and Agriculture Program says - it's up top employers to know how and when to allow farm hands to keep working.
“We have a new regulation. It came into effect last year. Employers need to protect their workers from wildfire smoke,” said David Hornung with Cal/OSHA’s Heat and Agriculture Program.
The new regulations are based on the air quality index, which was above 150 in several places where harvesting is taking place.
“If the air quality index is above 150, then the employer needs to provide N-95 masks,” Hornung said.
OSHA says it’s currently investigating several complaints from agricultural workers on the west coast. Fines for repeated violations could range from $5,000. to $50,000.
Meanwhile - many have already faced the worst - especially in Oregon - where they are facing the most costly and deadliest fire season in at least the last 30 years.