Poor air quality forcing businesses to implement measures to protect employees who work outside

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A smoky haze is still hanging over the city of Merced.

With the air quality levels still at unhealthy levels, employers are doing what they can to keep their workers safe.

"Letting them take breaks in their vehicles, and delaying any work that needs to be done where its going to be more strenuous on the guys," said acting Public Workers Supervisor Corey Plagenza.

Whether it's some regular maintenance or changing street light, dozens of Merced's city employees are still working.

Plagenza says he meets with each of the employees he supervises throughout the day.

He also says because of the dust they deal with, they already have protection on hand.

"We make dust masks available...the same way we have dust masks available to them," said Plagenza.

Cal OSHA issued an advisory for worker safety in areas impacted by wildfire smoke.

Along with providing dust maks, Mike North with Merced County says they're also monitoring employee's time outdoors.

"We're making sure our employees aren't spending too much time outside to the point where it could become unhealthy," said North.

Workers donned masks as they worked at the site of several new homes.

Almond grower and Stonefield Homes president, Greg Hostetler, says safety is his top priority and is making sure workers on both sides have masks.

He also says this is something employers will have to take a closer look at in the future.

"This air quality is unusual, it's quite an unusual event. So there's a learning curve to this to make sure our workers are protected," said Hostetler.

Cal Osha's website says that if the air is unhealthy, employers should implement practicable changes to work procedures to reduce exposure, and of course, proper respiratory equipment.
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