Policy Updates: Fall 2016

Posted on Oct 25, 2016
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Health and Safety Standards

Hotel housekeeper Musculoskeletal Injury and Illness Prevention

Worksafe, in solidarity with UNITE HERE, its members, and all non-unionized hotel housekeepers, has been working to push the Musculoskeletal Injury and Illness Prevention Standard. We are optimistic DOSH will propose a standard that includes specialized training for hotel housekeeping employees and supervisors, an increased role for employee representatives, protocols and procedures for early identification of musculoskeletal injury, and record keeping. We have been generally encouraged by the work of the Standards Board, DOSH staff, and the advisory committee so far. Unfortunately, at the last Standards Board meeting, DOSH moved back its estimate for proposing language for this standard from the end of October by “three or four” months.

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Historic Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention

Posted on Oct 24, 2016
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by Nicole Marquez, Staff Attorney

Last Thursday in Oakland, California, we celebrated a major victory for worker health and safety: our state became the first in the nation to pass a regulation preventing workplace violence. As a leader in progressive health and safety laws, our state will set the example for other states to follow - and hopefully, the entire country.

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Will California Take a Step Backwards on Silica?

Posted on Oct 24, 2016
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In March, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule on exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Federal efforts to protect workers against silica date back to the Great Depression, when Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins mounted a campaign to eliminate harmful exposures. For 20 years now, OSHA’s regulatory agenda has included updating its outdated rule to catch up to the long-established science on harmful exposure levels. The final rule on silica, which goes into effect in June 2017, does just that. The rule is expected to save 600 lives each year, and prevent 900 new cases of debilitating diseases resulting from silica exposure.

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How Safe is the "Green" Economy?

Posted on Apr 28, 2016
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Only strong worker organizing can guarantee that jobs in the so-called green economy will be healthy and safe for workers.

Former Worksafe Executive Director Gail Bateson contributed to this op-ed, which originally appeared on Alternet on March 30, 2016.

Americans have made a decision: We’re throwing away the throwaway economy. Curbside recycling is available in more than 9,000 municipalities, and one-third of America’s waste stream is now diverted from landfills.

It’s great that we’re conserving raw materials, saving money and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. Now it’s time to make another decision: We need to raise pay and improve working conditions for recycling workers. These are green jobs and good for the environment. But they are also dangerous, with high rates of serious injury and even the risk of death.

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Workers' Memorial Day 2016

Posted on Apr 19, 2016
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Reclaim Labor! Reclaim Lives!
Oakland-based Collaborative, Worksafe, Street Level, and Centro Legal de la Raza to Host Workers Memorial Day Event, April 28th, 2016

Oakland, CA – An Oakland collaborative of community and advocacy organizations, Worksafe, Street Level Health Project, and Centro Legal de la Raza will host a Workers Memorial Day event on April 28th, 2016 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Oakland. Workers, advocates, and allies will meet at the Lake Merritt Amphitheatre located between 12th Street and 1st Ave. on Lake Merritt Blvd. in Downtown Oakland. Participants will then march in solidarity to City Hall located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. At 5:30 p.m. at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, there will be a short memorial program featuring workers, labor, government agencies, and advocates. A moment of silence will be observed to mourn workers who passed in the workplace in the prior year.

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New Report Exposes Dangers of Recycling Work

Posted on Jun 23, 2015
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2015-06-23-recycling-report_250x25017 Recent Fatalities; Workers Injured at Twice the Average Rate
East Bay Workers Take Action to Make Jobs Safer

OAKLAND, CA - A new report, released Tuesday, June 23 by environmental, occupational safety, and community benefits experts, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, finds that recycling work is unnecessarily hazardous to workers’ health and safety.

Seventeen American recycling workers died on the job from 2011 to 2013, including at least three in California. Recycling workers are more than twice as likely to be injured at work as the average worker.

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2015 "Dying at Work" Report Released

Posted on May 1, 2015
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Pages from 2015_Dying_at_Work_in_California

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Exposed at Work AND at Home

Posted on Mar 31, 2015
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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.

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Injuries and deaths on minds of striking Steelworkers

Posted on Feb 9, 2015
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The Pump Handle

This post originally appeared on The Pump Handle, on February 5, 2015
By Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University

Workplace safety is one of the core issues of concern for the thousands of refinery workers who went on strike February 1 at plants in Texas, California, Washington, and Kentucky. The workers are members of the United Steelworkers (USW), and say their employers— LyondellBasell, Marathon Oil, and Royal Dutch Shell—put lives at risk with excessive work hours, delayed maintenance, and production pressure. Their previous contract was negotiated and approved in 2012.

“Union members believe it is time to take a stand,” USW spokesperson Lynn Hancock told the Houston Chronicle. “If we don’t, our people will continue to get injured and killed on the job.” The last time there was a walk-out of this magnitude by the USW was 1980.

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California workplace fatality rates up, with sharp rise among Latino workers

Posted on Sep 11, 2014
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People killed on the job in CaliforniaToday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released preliminary data on the number of work-related fatalities for 2013; final figures are due out next spring. While the overall trend nationwide indicates both a lower number of deaths (4,405) and rate of fatal incidents (3.2 per 100/000 workers) compared to 2012 figures, California moved in the opposite direction: more workers killed and a startling increase in deaths among Latino workers.

The preliminary number of deaths for California in 2012 was 339, which was later revised up to 375; the preliminary figure for 2013 is already at 385 deaths. We can reasonably expect the final count to surpass 400.

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