Lawmakers working to pass Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protections Act

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Extreme heat waves, raging wildfires and smokey orange skies have become solemn regular fixtures for Central Californians.

Qith the recent wildfires, the danger is escalating for those who work outside.

"When wildfire smoke becomes a problem, that's a big challenge for employees and for us as employers to make sure that we're keeping our workers safe," says Daniel Hartwig.

Farm workers are essential but also vulnerable to unhealthy air conditions and harmful particles released from wildfire smoke.

"While many of us had the ability to shelter indoors last week, farming and agricultural workers remained outdoors in smoky fields and orchards, harvesting and producing the crops that helped feed our state, and help feed our country," says Assemblymember Robert Rivas.

California lawmakers are working to pass the Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protections Act.

This would require employers to provide N95 masks, and require Cal/OSHA to provide workers with bilingual wildfire safety information.

"What these N95 masks do is they help reduce the number of particulates, the amount of smoke that can actually get in and get into folks' lungs," Hartwig said. "Making sure that they have masks to protect their breathing is one of the most important steps they can take.

"We must do all we can to ensure that our farm and agricultural workers are not risking their health and well-being," Rivas said

The bill still needs to pass in the Senate and Assembly before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk.
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