As a historic rise in wildfires over the past few years continues to endanger the safety of outdoor workers—many organizations are stuck using inadequate air quality monitoring (AQI) measurement methods. Wildfire smoke is composed of fine particles that can irritate the lungs and cause serious or even fatal health effects. In 2019 Cal/OSHA issued an emergency regulation (title 8, section 5141.1) to protect outdoor workers from exposure to wildfire smoke where the current AQI for PM2.5 is above 150, and where employers should reasonably anticipate employee exposure to wildfire smoke. The Creek Fire scorched more than 375,000 acres in the Sierra National Forest in 2020. In response, Southern California Edison mobilized a workforce of more than 2,000 personnel, 9 laydown yards, and 4,800 pieces of equipment to repair damaged hydro facilities, power poles, and electrical wires. Poor air quality from wildfire smoke and inaccessible mountainous terrain brought on significant challenges and delays due to the logistics of compliance. Before deploying APT’s solution, SCE was outsourcing its AQI monitoring to EC firms that were using time-consuming methods. A single reading could take several hours to complete. Industrial Hygiene Technicians and the safety team would drive 12 hours a day 7 days a week to take environmental readings. Whenever the AQI was around 500, workers had to halt operations to ensure that workers weren’t being overexposed; resulting in costly delays and unnecessary downtime while they waited for approval.
APT’s solution includes wearable monitors, which transmit data wirelessly to an online platform for easy access and accurate real-time updates. The platform is fast, seamless, simple, and it requires minimal training to deploy. It gives high-risk workers and actionable insights on smoke exposure risks so they can make timely decisions.
SCE used APT’s mobile air quality monitoring platform (MINIMAS) to distribute 42 mobile monitors to its personnel, giving high-risk workers instant access to real-time data. The monitors they use are designed to output PM 2.5 readings and alerts based on the Cal/OSHA wildfire standards for low, medium, and high-risk AQI conditions. By using APT’s monitor, SCE was able to significantly reduced costs related to delays; saving 98 hours of unnecessary downtime for each worker resulting in a total savings of ~150,000 hours. With APT’s monitors, workers are now able to check concentrations immediately, which eliminates delays and minimizes safety risks from wildfire exposure.