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Wildfire Smoke Inhalation

Wildfire Smoke Inhalation

Question: Employees working in an office downwind from major forest fires can smell the smoke in the office. After several days, one employee experiences respiratory irritation and says they are having difficulty breathing. They are taking to the ER and are provided oxygen. The next day 4 other employees visit their personal doctors and are provided oxygen for respiratory irritation associated with smoke inhalation. Is it recordable?

Answer: YES. The injuries occurred or were contributed to during the normal workday and therefore must be recorded due to the presumption of work-relatedness.

Letter of Interpretation: ...The work event or exposure need only be a cause of the injury or illness; it need not be the sole or predominant cause.

1904.5(a) Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in §1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies

1904.5(b)(1) What is the "work environment"? OSHA defines the work environment as "the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work."

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