Wildfire Smoke Exposure: Awareness and Safety Responses in the Agricultural Workplace

Authors: Heather E Riden, Rebeca Giacinto, Gail Wadsworth, Julie Rainwater, Teresa Andrews, Kent E Pinkerton

Agricultural employers had varying knowledge about and experience responding to poor air quality due to wildfire smoke. Respirators or masks were not mentioned as a potential protective measure when describing their safety practices. Farmworkers reported experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, although knowledge of safety precautions varied. Farmworkers reported employer and supervisors' attitudes toward safety as having the greatest impact on the implementation of workplace safety measures. Adapting health promotion and workplace safety strategies to meet the multiple vulnerabilities and diverse needs of farmworkers is critical to successful implementation of workplace protection and safety measures. Given limited familiarity with the topic, wildfire smoke exposure resources are needed to assist employers and supervisors in their compliance with a new wildfire smoke safety regulation in California. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to explore agricultural employer and farmworker perceptions of the health and safety impacts of wildfire smoke and workplace exposure.

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