Legislative and Regulatory Updates: Spring 2017

Posted on Jun 8, 2017
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Worksafe is currently prioritizing support for the following bills:

SB 306 (Retaliation Injunctive Relief - Hertzberg)

Sponsor: California Labor Federation

Status: Active bill pending referral in the Assembly

Summary: Would grant the Labor Commissioner authority to seek temporary injunctions against employers for Labor Code violations, such as retaliation for reporting a health or safety hazard. The bill would also give the Labor Commissioner authority to issue citations and penalties directly to enforce retaliation claims, rather than exclusively through the courts. Finally, the bill would authorize an employee who is bringing a civil action for a retaliation claim to seek injunctive relief from the court.

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New Worksafe Report Scrutinizes Tesla's Health and Safety Record

Posted on May 24, 2017
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Over the past several months, workers at Tesla have become increasingly aware of the potential safety hazards at the company’s flagship vehicle plant in Fremont, California.

In April 2017, workers first requested copies of the OSHA Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses that companies are required by law to make available to their employees.

Worksafe analyzed these logs in order to interpret the data and evaluate how their plant compared to other auto manufacturing facilities.

This report represents the findings of that analysis -- read it here.

 

  


2017 Dying At Work Report Released

Posted on Apr 27, 2017
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Worksafe is proud to announce the release of our 2017 annual report, Dying at Work in California: The Hidden Stories Behind the Numbers.

We produce this report to bear witness to the human toll of unsafe work and unscrupulous employers, to inform the public about threats to worker health, and to emphasize the importance of publically available data on occupational health. We hope the report also serves to inspire collective action and celebrate recent advances and victories that have made workers safer. The full report is available here.


Worksafe receives funding to tackle temporary worker exploitation

Posted on Dec 22, 2016
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We are pleased to report that Worksafe and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC) have received a $150,000 grant from the State Bar of California to advocate for economic stability and safe and healthy workplaces for temporary workers. Worksafe and WWRC’s partnership will incorporate policy and legal advocacy and worker empowerment to support and promote the economic stabilization of temporary workers employed through staffing agencies. These workers are part of a fast-growing sector of the economy, but are excluded from many of the laws and regulations that protect workers and often overlooked by organizing efforts. We look forward to building a coalition and developing strategies to address the unique health and safety issues facing temporary workers, as well as working with WWRC to help bring economic security to so many workers left vulnerable by the precarious status of being a “temp.”


Worksafe attorneys receive Social Justice Awards

Posted on Dec 22, 2016
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Worksafe Managing Attorney Jora Trang and Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez had the honor of receiving the COSH Social Justice Award at the National Conference for Worker Safety and Health Awards Banquet on Wednesday, December 7. Jora and Nicole were recognized for their hard work and commitment to promoting diversity and social justice within the COSH movement.

For many of us, we are sobered by the reality of the coming year’s challenges to worker protections and attacks on immigrant, LGBT, and communities of color. While it is important to recognize these obstacles, it is equally important to recognize our accomplishments. The passion and dedication that won our past accomplishments fuel and reaffirm our commitment to worker power and social justice.

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Ya Basta! Coalition ending sexual violence against janitors

Posted on Dec 22, 2016
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by Nicole Marquez, Staff Attorney

Workplaces should be free of violent threats or actions, and workers should always feel safe while at work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

Workers in the janitorial services, who are disproportionately immigrant and workers of color, are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and violence at work*. Many often face other unfair and unsafe working conditions.  In its report, the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley (LOHP) found that some janitorial workers do not receive minimum wage, and many do not receive overtime payment. Many often work at night and in isolation. This isolation from co-workers and the public reduces the likelihood that anyone will intervene or witness assaults against them, and allows harassers to exert even greater control over workers.

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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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