Worksafe began in the late 1970s when a group of labor, community, and occupational health educators and activists came together to advocate for safety and health for California’s workers.
The organization has roots in two past groups, BACOSH (Bay Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health) and SCCOSH (Santa Clara Center on Occupational Safety and Health).
These two organizations became CalCOSH in 2004, and the name of the organization was changed to Worksafe in 2006.
Worksafe and its predecessor organizations have a long track record of improving workplace health and safety in California. From the start we have helped to train and empower thousands of at-risk workers. Since the early 2000s, we have provided support services to legal aid organizations across California so that they are better able to deliver occupational health and safety and workers' compensation advice and representation to their low-wage worker clients.
Alongside our hard-working allies, Worksafe has also initiated or contributed to many significant occupational safety and health bills considered and enacted by the California legislature in the past 28 years. These legislative victories include the California Right to Know Law in 1980 (California Labor Code Sections 6360-6363, 6365-6374, and 6380-6386) and AB 1127 (PDF), which established the strongest health and safety protections in the country for workers on multi-employer worksites.
More recently, Worksafe sponsored AB 515 (PDF), a proposal to achieve equal protection for workers exposed to toxic chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm—many of which are carefully regulated by the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) in the environment at large under Prop 65, but are either under-regulated or completely unregulated by Cal/OSHA in the workplace.
Our legislative proposals have often been met with fierce opposition from well-funded business interests and sometimes Cal/OSHA itself. More recently, our proposals have fallen victim to the State budget crisis, but we will continue to promote laws and regulations that protect people on the job.
In December 2007, Worksafe hosted a successful Policy Conference with over 150 advocates from unions, worker centers, and legal services programs, along with OSH professionals, environmentalists, environmental justice activists, government officials, individual workers, families of workers killed on the job, and other allies, to discuss issues of common concern and develop a comprehensive policy agenda for improving worker health and safety in California. Since then, Worksafe has been building our network of health and safety activists, and working on coordinated campaigns with both old and new allies.
Worksafe in the Present
If you’re interested in learning more about the principal advocacy activities Worksafe is currently engaged in, check out Our Campaigns and Projects.