Following Canadian Wildfires, Division of Worker Protection Encourages Employers Limit or Suspend Outdoor Work in Impacted Regions
The New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Worker Protection today released an announcement encouraging employers to limit outdoor work and activities that require exertion when Air Quality Health Advisories in their region are in effect. Industries with workers who may be especially susceptible to the impacts of wildfire smoke exposure include farming and agriculture, construction, landscaping, highway maintenance, and other fields that require outdoor heavy-exertion labor.
Employers and workers should look out for regional Air Quality Health Advisories from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Department of Health (DOH). On June 28, 2023, an air Quality Health Advisory was issued for all regions across New York State.
The DEC’s Air Quality Hotline is available 1-800-535-1345 for the latest information.
The DOH recommends that all impacted New Yorkers limit strenuous outdoor activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. People who are especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollutants, including the very young and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as heart disease or asthma, should avoid spending time outdoors, if possible.
Workers who are sick or become sick as a result of smoke exposure, can inform their employers and use any Paid Sick Leave accruals available. New York’s paid sick leave law requires employers with five or more employees or net income of more than $1 million to provide paid sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or less are required to provide unpaid sick leave to employees.