AEC: Air quality and workplace advice from your union

What you need to know


Latest advice on smoke Haze - Bushfire and Air Quality


In early January, we wrote to the AEC seeking urgent advice on the Agency’s response plan when Air Quality reaches poor to hazardous levels. The CPSU wanted to know the steps that the AEC is taking to monitor (eg, which tools will be used to monitor air quality) the respective State or Territory AQI (Air Quality Index) then notify workers in areas affected of the hazard and risks associated to health, and how work arrangements are adjusted to manage the risk to workers health.


A summary of the AEC’s response stated that:


  • Air quality testing has been conducted daily at the National Office. Measures were taken regularly to ensure that smoke affected air from outside being drawn into building ventilation systems is appropriately managed, such as reducing outside airflow, limiting entry points to the building and using the air conditioning filtration system.
  • The AEC would continue to follow the advice of the A/g Chief Medical Officer and ACT Health to determine the Air Quality levels and thresholds against which the air quality would be measured.
  • The AEC had determined the level of Hazardous High as the appropriate category for directing all staff to leave the workplace.
  • All staff have been encouraged to speak to their Manager and seek medical advice if they feel uncomfortable, and these staff will be supported to take leave if they need to.
  • The AEC consider their buildings provide a safer environment than outside and many households.


What should you do?

If you have concerns about your health due to smoke haze, you should seek advice from your medical practitioner. Please read our factsheet on the latest advice on Smoke Haze - Bushfire and Hazardous Air Quality. You may consider wearing a PT/N95 rated mask designed to filter fine particles. These masks are available from hardware retailers and other safety equipment suppliers. To offer the best protection, a P2/N95 mask must be fitted properly. Clause 35.5 of your enterprise agreement allows for you to make an arrangement to work from a location other than your usual place of work.


If you are experiencing any difficulties in accessing your entitlements, please get in touch with the CPSU Member Service Centre on 1300 137 636.

If you have ideas on how your work area could be made safer work during the bushfire crisis, please email