Wildfires are becoming more prevalent, devastating and enduring in British Columbia, and is a seasonal occupational hazard for many workers.
People may feel mild exposure symptoms such as a sore throat, shortness of breath, and irritated eyes. Wildfire smoke may cause headaches and worsening allergies. An individual that feels difficulty breathing or coughing should contact their supervisor and discuss concerns with their health care provider.
The level of risk from wildfire smoke exposure depends on:
- The location of work (indoors vs outdoors). Workers who work outside are particularly affected by wildfire smoke, as physical exertion can increase air intake up to 20 times.
- The type of activity being performed (i.e. physical activities will lead to inhaling more air). Wildfire smoke can also contribute to heat stress and low visibility risks.
- The duration of the activity being performed.
If a worker is or may be occupationally exposed to wildfire smoke, site specific safe working procedures must be developed and communicated.
For more information, please visit our ‘Wildfire Smoke Health & Safety‘ webpage.