June 2019 News & Views

Time for National Protections Against Excessive Heat

California has long been on the forefront of protecting workers from the hazards of excessive heat. After years of effort, health and safety activists pushed Cal/OSHA to finally enact emergency regulations to protect workers from outdoor heat in 2006 following a surge in heat-related deaths of farmworkers, and we will hopefully soon have a standard affording protections to indoor workers. 
Unfortunately, the federal government has not caught up to California in addressing this issue. According to official figures over 800 workers died in the U.S. from heat exposure between 1992 and 2017, and another 70,000 became seriously ill. These are undoubtedly gross undercounts. Exposure to excessive heat also reduces workers’ mental acuity and physical ability, contributing to increased numbers of traumatic injuries.
In addition to killing people and making them sick, heat hazards are a growing threat to economic prosperity. The 2018 National Climate Assessment identified heat as a major threat to labor productivity that could grow to be one of the greatest categories of adverse economic impacts of climate change on the United States. The cost of lost productivity alone could exceed $200 billion dollars per year by the end of this century. 
History will prove California’s actions to address heat hazards to be prescient. As temperatures rise from global warming, more and more workers will be exposed to heat hazards, and those hazards will become more extreme. While the costs nationally are already far too high, they will only increase with time. California needs to continue its work to get ahead of this issue by finalizing a strong indoor heat standard that can be a national model.
Worksafe was proud to be part of a coalition with Public Citizen, National Resources Defense Counsel, Farmworker Justice and a host of unions, worker organizations, and environmental and public health advocates that in 2018 called on OSHA promulgate a rule to protect workers from the hazards of excessive heat. It is time to renew that call and challenge federal OSHA, or if not OSHA then Congress, to take action to address this issue before more workers needlessly die.

Doug Parker
Executive Director
Worksafe's Maggie Robbins, Nicole Marquez, and Jora Trang meet with AB 647 author Assemblymember Ash Kalra.
Yes on #AB647 to Protect Salon Workers

Worksafe is proud to be co-sponsoring two pieces of legislation this year. One of them is AB 647 (Kalra), a bill that would make it easier for salon workers to access information about the products they use at work.
We were in Sacramento this week with our co-sponsor, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, to speak with legislators about this important issue.
Disinfectants, polishes, dyes, straighteners, and other beauty care products contain a multitude of chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, allergies, respiratory, neurological, and reproductive harm. AB 647 will require manufacturers to translate Safety Data Sheets (SDS) about these products into Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean – and post them on a website that workers can access. This will enable salon workers and owners to better understand and avoid the health hazards of salon products.
More than 30 Vietnamese nail salon workers and owners joined the lobby day, some traveling from Central and Southern California to visit with state senators. We engaged with 32 of the 40 senators, and the majority of the meetings were conducted in Vietnamese.
Workers were especially excited to meet the bill’s author, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who represents the 27th Assembly District which includes San Jose. Workers clapped as Kalra, the first Indian-American to serve in the California State Legislature, greeted them and thanked them in Vietnamese.
AB647 has successfully passed out of the Environmental Quality and Labor Committees and is expected to do well with bipartisan support. We are thrilled to be partnering with such dedicated workers and advocates to make it happen.
On a 'Pathway to Justice' with Legal Aid Allies
In early June, Worksafe participated in Pathways to Justice 2019 — a statewide conference hosted by the California State Bar and the Legal Aid Association of California. The event, which happens every three years, brings together nonprofit legal aid organizations throughout the state for two days of workshops on various legal topics. 
Jora Trang, Worksafe’s Managing Attorney, facilitated three trainings during the conference: Occupational Safety and Health 101, Practical Skills for Direct and Cross Examinations, and Legal Ethics & the Intersection of Domestic and Workplace Violence.
DYK? Worksafe is certified by the California State Bar to provide legal support services to the state’s Qualified Legal Service Providers (QLSPs). As a Support Center, we aim to increase the capacity of QLSPs to assist low-income and immigrant clients facing workplace safety rights violations. Worksafe is the only legal support organization in California focused on worker health and safety.
Bay Area: Host Your Next Meeting at Worksafe

Host your next team meeting in Worksafe's bright and airy conference room! The space can accommodate up to 16 people for meetings, workshops, trainings, and more. We are able to offer affordable rates for half-day and full-day events. Plus, it is conveniently located in Downtown Oakland, just one block from the 19th Street BART station, on the fifth floor of the historic California Ballroom building. 
Click here to get more details and reserve your spot!
Be sure to check out Dying at Work in California 2019 – Worksafe’s eighth annual report on the state of safety and health protections for California workers. Please read and share.
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