Some construction jobsites near the West Coast have voluntarily shut down as the wildfires’ create hazardous air conditions, but others work on. Oregon’s air quality index was above the hazardous levels as designated by the EPA on Tuesday, says Construction Dive. There are no calls for closing jobsites at this time in Oregon, though some have taken it upon themselves to shut down while others continue. State officials do not plan to order workers to end outdoor work activity at this time in either Oregon or California, which puts builders in the position to either pause work, inform owners of a new timeline without support from government mandates, or potentially put their workers at risk.
The wildfires have come during a year when construction firms already had been challenged to continue working while implementing COVID-19 mitigation protocols. The smoke generated by the fires has added new hurdles — and health threats — to onsite workers, including some shortages of N95 masks that protect against particulate matter.
“This is worse than COVID, or just as bad, because the facial coverings don’t protect you from this, and you need the N95 masks, and we’ve had shortages of those,” Camarillo said. “It’s a disaster, and it’s a regulatory issue. How long can we sustain this type of air, and be outdoors working? There’s got to be some limit, some threshold, because this intensifies workers’ risks, and these fires are probably going to be something we will have to continue to deal with.”