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Hot In Here: Workers Demand Strong Protections from Indoor Heat Hazards

Posted on Jun 28, 2017

7Too many California workers toil for long hours in very hot indoor environments – sometimes without access to clean water or adequate ventilation, even in the peak of summer. These workers are vulnerable to heat-related illness: health conditions that can range from heat exhaustion to deadly heat stroke. Workers in restaurants, warehouses, garment factories, and industrial laundries are particularly prone, though indoor heat hazards pose a serious risk in many other industries across the state.

In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1167 – a bill directing Cal/OSHA to protect workers from indoor heat exposure by January 2019. Worksafe and our allies are working to encourage Cal/OSHA to adopt a strong, evidence-based standard that will protect all California workers.

Worksafe strongly believes that workers most impacted by heat hazards should have the biggest say in determining details of the new standard — after all, they know what it is like to work in high heat environments without adequate protections. Unfortunately (and predictably) powerful industry players are attempting to weaken the rulemaking process behind the scenes. They claim it is too complicated to protect all workers from dangerous indoor heat hazards.

We beg to differ. When workers share their personal stories of heat illness, we listen. We hope that Cal/OSHA listens too and implements a new indoor heat prevention standard that is strong, worker-centered, and inclusive of all industries.

Are you a worker looking for training on indoor heat hazards?

Want to join our efforts to ensure a strong indoor heat regulation? 

Contact our Senior Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez (nmarquez at worksafe dot org).


 For more information:

California health and safety program reviewed by feds

Posted on Aug 3, 2015

Each summer OSHA issues an audit called a FAME report, which measures how Cal/OSHA is doing – compared to the state’s own laws and goals and federal OSHA’s benchmarks – to ensure that our state program is “at least at effective as” (ALEA) as the federal program. The 2014 audit, released July 2015, tracks Cal/OSHA’s progress in resolving issues identified in earlier reports. The full report and DIR’s response can be found here.

The report found that Cal/OSHA made progress on about half of the 26 findings and recommendations from the 2013 audit, but 10 of these have been be issued repeatedly over many years, including those covering the DLSE-run program to protect workers from OSH retaliation.


Exposed at Work AND at Home

Posted on Mar 31, 2015

Health, Firefighter, Consumer and Science Groups Seek Ban on Household Products With Toxic Chemical Flame Retardants

97% of U.S. residents at risk from toxic organohalogen flame retardants in their bodies

Washington, D.C. — Today, a broad coalition of health, firefighter, consumer and science groups filed a petition asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban four categories of consumer products—children’s products, furniture, mattresses and the casings around electronics—if they contain any flame retardant in the chemical class known as organohalogens. Petitioners include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Worksafe, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan and the Green Science Policy Institute.


California Heat Standard Gets an Upgrade

Posted on Feb 26, 2015

OHIP_farmworkers_heat_250x250Worksafe and Labor Coalition Win Improved Protections in Revised Heat Standard

Last week, by a 5-1 vote, the California OSH Standards Board approved major revisions to Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard. Because the next heat season is almost upon us, the new provisions may go into effect as early as April 1, 2015, instead of following the normal wait time, which would take us well into the summer. Employers will have to revise their written programs and train workers on the new provisions before then.

Worksafe led the multi-year effort to bring together the voices of organized labor, farmworker organizations, and public health experts to support the proposal by Cal/OSHA enforcement staff, who argued that they needed clearer and stronger language to reduce the rate of heat-related illnesses and fatalities in the state.


Support California leading the nation in heat illness prevention

Posted on Sep 17, 2014

White_and_Red_Thermometer_250x250Join Worksafe’s efforts to strengthen worker protections from heat illness: Sign our letter by September 24th!

After surviving last weekend’s heat spell, it’s easy to appreciate the importance of protecting the people who work outside every day in the hot sun -- harvesting and packing food, landscaping communities, building houses, parking or washing cars, directing traffic, or doing road repairs.

Every year in California, at least 600 people experience some kind of heat-related illness on the job. So far this year, at least three have died. That’s with the current heat illness prevention standard in place.


The Stories Behind the Statistics

Posted on Apr 27, 2014

Dying at Work ReportOn April 15, 2013, 26-year-old temporary worker David Eleidjian never came home from his job at a Bay Point industrial manufacturing facility. The Iraq war veteran and recent father was caught and pulled into an unguarded spinning shaft, and died later at the hospital.

Four days later, in Santa Rosa, 21-year-old Hugo Tapia also left for his temp work position, at the glass company his father had worked at for decades. He too never returned. Only two weeks into the job, he was crushed by heavy, unsecured glass that fell off an A-frame rack.

In October, amid the tensions of a BART strike brought on in part by concerns over worker safety, BART employee Chris Sheppard and consultant Laurence Daniels were inspecting a dip in the tracks near the Walnut Creek station. They were struck and killed by a train on a maintenance run, driven by a student trainee likely being instructed in the event of a prolonged strike.


Meeting the Needs of California's Workforce

Posted on Feb 25, 2014

Staffing ShortagesA former Cal/OSHA senior staffer issued a report in early February 2014 that highlights historically low rates of staffing at Cal/OSHA. The report asserts that inadequate numbers of workplace inspectors significantly impacts DOSH’s ability to meet its mandates, including benchmarks set by the federal government for responding to complaints, and state requirements for inspecting tunnels under construction six times a year.

While DIR disputes some of the data in the report, they are in the process of hiring more inspectors and making an effort to get the word out about open positions. At the first Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee meeting of 2014, agency representatives discussed their plans to hire at least 25 inspectors at locations throughout California, with hopefully more positions to be posted soon. Click here for the listing of current opportunities.


The Right to Know, not Right to Guess

Posted on Feb 24, 2014

Right to KnowFor nearly a year now, Worksafe has been at the forefront of advocates weighing in on proposed changes to California workers’ Right to Know about the chemicals they use on the job. As Worksafe Occupational Health Specialist Dorothy Wigmore wrote in a recent letter (PDF) to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Standards Board”), “A meaningful [right to know] regulation is a long-standing and a key goal when we advocate for protective worker health and safety laws.”

These state-level changes were prompted by changes on the federal level, after OSHA adopted some of the international Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (or GHS) in 2012. Click here to read our previous post for more information on our fight for the Right to Know.


Introducing The Healthy Babies Act of 2014

Posted on Feb 21, 2014

Mother and ChildThe Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) has selected Nicole Marquez as one of 25 fellows enrolled in a yearlong training program for women activists engaged in social justice work. During this time, the fellows work in teams to develop and implement specific policy initiatives that address the needs of low-income women and families.

Nicole is a member of the Domestic Violence Team, which is working to pass the Healthy Babies Act of 2014, AB 1579, authored by Assembly Member Mark Stone and co-authored by Senator Holly Mitchell.

This bill would change the state’s CalWORKs statute to allow for pregnant women (with no other children in the household) to become eligible for CalWORKs basic needs grants upon verification of the pregnancy.


Room for Improvement: Heat Illness Prevention Rules May See Updates Soon

Posted on Feb 20, 2014

Heat HazeThis summer is predicted by weather experts to be the hottest on record. And while California's current heat illness prevention standard has led to improvements in those industries covered by the rules, workers are still suffering from heat hazards.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has drafted language for possible changes to the state’s heat illness prevention standard, drawing on comments from labor and worker groups, as well as employers and industry representatives.

DOSH held a stakeholder meeting in Oakland on February 3, 2014 to get feedback on the proposed changes and discuss how these regulations can be improved.


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