Inclement Weather: Air Quality Issues

Wildfire season in Oregon can negatively impact air quality as smoke levels increase. On such occasions, the university typically maintains regular operations with no change to work or class schedules. Standard procedures apply for weather-related notifications such as cancellation, delayed start, and early closure decisions should a change in normal operations be necessary.

Employee Guidance

Employees should communicate with their supervisor if they have concerns about their workspace or assignments during periods of lower air quality.

Employees who miss work because of personal illness as a result of local air quality or because they must provide care for immediate family members who are ill, may use available sick leave as normal. Visit the time off webpage for more information about use of other leave.

Public health agencies may issue air quality advisories which recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activities, or even staying indoors for sensitive groups. Advisories may include information about the possible effectiveness of certain respirators (types P100 or N95) with proper fitting and use. The UO does not provide nor encourage the general use of these respirators except as required on the job. Anyone who voluntarily chooses to use a P100 or N95 respirator at work must first contact Environmental Health and Safety within Safety and Risk Services for required OSHA training. UO guidelines on wildfire smoke address the use of masks and respirators. Additional air quality information can be found on the Safety and Risk Services website.

Supervisor Guidance

Supervisors are asked to keep in mind the following principles to ensure the safety and comfort of employees during periods of low air quality:

  • When the Air Quality Index is higher than 200, employees should be moved indoors by providing duties inside campus buildings where mechanical filtration is provided or by providing remote work options. Employees may only work critical outdoor jobs with the use of respirators.
    If it is not possible to do any of these things, contact before sending employees home and before telling them there is no work.
  • Adjust assignments to minimize strenuous activity and outdoor exposure.
  • Allow for extra breaks and hydration.
  • If the work and equipment (such as with a laptop computer and mobile phone) allow, be flexible in work locations. Allow employees to work in a more comfortable building (like the EMU) or from home.
  • Additional air quality information can be found on the Safety and Risk Services website.


Please contact your direct supervisor or department director with any questions. Employee questions may also be directed to the Human Resources Service Center at 6-3159 or by email at Questions regarding safety can be directed to Safety and Risk Services at