The California Farm Bureau, Teamsters and farmworker groups have come out in strong support of a measure to stockpile N95 respirators for farmworkers ahead of wildfire season.

The approach is similar to the state response last year after fires erupted. CDFA would send the masks to county ag commissioner offices, where employers and community groups could collect them for distribution. The measure would also deploy a Cal/OSHA strike team to ensure employers are in compliance with the new state requirement for masks when hazardous smoke is present and to train workers on wildfire safety.

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 “Breathing in toxic smoke has been linked to increased rates of chronic heart and respiratory diseases, and without adequate protective equipment, our farmworkers risk lifelong debilitating illnesses," said Assemblymember Robert Rivas of Hollister, who authored the bill.

The California Association of Winegrape Growers is leading the industry’s engagement efforts and plans for some minor amendments. The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee unanimously approved the bill on Thursday.