Information provided by the Office of State Assemblyman Robert Rivas.
On Dec. 8, State Assemblyman Robert Rivas introduced Assembly Bill 73, the Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protections Act, in the state legislature.
A recent press release stated that the legislation would ensure farm and other agricultural workers will be better educated and protected against the severe health impacts of wildfire smoke, if approved. This includes having a stockpile of N95 masks.
“The tragic and hazardous wildfires we experienced this year have introduced another public health crisis for our most vulnerable class of essential workers: wildfire smoke,” said Rivas. “Breathing toxic smoke has been linked to increased rates of chronic heart and respiratory diseases, and without adequate protections, our farmworkers risk lifelong debilitating illnesses. AB 73 will establish a dedicated stockpile of N95 respirators for our farmworkers and will deploy Cal/OSHA strike teams to ensure every worker has access to these masks.”
AB 73, Rivas’s first bill since becoming chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, is joint-authored by Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez, Ash Kalra, and Eduardo Garcia.
The release notes that specifically, AB 73:
- requires the Department of Industrial Relations, in coordination with other state agencies, to establish a stockpile of N95 masks that can be distributed to farmers during a wildfire outbreak
- requires immediate deployment of specialized strike teams from each Cal/OSHA regional office during major unhealthy air quality events
- requires Cal/OSHA to develop and distribute information on wildfire safety to agricultural employees in Spanish and English and also via pictograms