September 2019

New Cal/OSHA Chief Reports for Duty

On September 18th, former Worksafe Executive Director Doug Parker was sworn-in as the new Chief of Cal/OSHA. Labor Secretary Julie Su presided over the event, which drew dozens of state employees and members of the broader occupational health and safety community.
Chief Parker's appointment comes at a critical juncture for Cal/OSHA and the Department of Industrial Relations more generally. Challenges abound, and months of leadership vacancies haven't helped. Secretary Su reviewed some of these challenges in her opening remarks – noting, for example, the need to respond to emerging worker health and safety threats brought about by climate change.  
“What we do is more important than ever," Su told the room. "I believe we’ve found the right leader for this critical moment in DOSH’s history [...] this is the leader I believe you deserve.” 
Are You Worksafe's Next Director?

Worksafe is seeking an Executive Director to replace Doug – and we need your help! 
Please forward the job posting to folks you know who may be interested, or consider applying yourself! The application will remain open until November 4th or until filled, so early applications are encouraged.
Worksafe’s Executive Director is responsible for providing leadership and vision, directing daily operations, and furthering the long term goals of the organization. We are seeking someone with experience leading a team, developing programs and campaigns, and fundraising. Candidates should thrive interfacing with diverse stakeholders including policy makers, government agencies, workers, advocates, and members of the media. Candidates must possess a strong desire to improve the health and safety of California’s workforce.
Health & Safety Training with Airport Workers

This month, Jora and Nicole presented an advanced training to International Association of Machinists (IAM) airport workers on strategies for addressing safety and health issues in the workplace. Training activities included body mapping, hazard mapping, and roleplay activities. These trainings are a part of an ongoing effort to better understand the working conditions of airport workers and increase our capacity to support them. 
Would your labor, legal, or community organization like to receive a free training from Worksafe? We offer training on a variety of topics – like Occupational Health & Safety 101 – and can also work with you to develop a custom experience. Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more and arrange your training!

New Report Documents Silicosis Outbreak among Stone Fabrication Workers 

In 2018, two California workers died of severe silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust. Both worked at the same stone countertop fabrication company, and both were under 40 when they passed away. Four more employees of the same company have also been diagnosed with silicosis. 
This comes from a new report that documents 18 cases of silicosis among workers in the stone fabrication industry – workers who cut, grind, and polish engineered stone for kitchen and bathroom countertops. These cases are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As of 2018, there were nearly 9,000 establishments doing this type of work, with nearly 100,000 employees. From the report:
"Many stone fabrication shops are small-scale operations that might face safety challenges, including limited awareness, expertise, and investment in exposure-control technologies, that can result in inadequate worker protection. In addition, many employees in this industry are Hispanic immigrants, who might be especially vulnerable to workplace health hazards."
Silicosis is preventable, but more must be done to identify and protect workers who are exposed to silica dust. The federal silica standard was updated in 2016, so now is the time to focus on outreach, training, surveillance, and enforcement. The California Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Branch has a web page with links to new safety resources for workers and employers – check it out here.
Labor Podcast Seeks Bay Area Health & Safety Stories

Jonathan Tasini, a longtime labor activist and communications strategist, is working on a special series for his Working Life podcast about why workers die and get sick at work.
He is planning to tell the story through a city/community and address the various aspects of safety and health by focusing on one community. He is considering the Bay Area because it might have the various components of industries and peoples’ stories – he would like to hear from safety and health advocates with stories to consider.
Do you have a lead or a story to share? Contact Jonathan at
Will We See You at #COSHCON19?

The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON19) is the only national gathering of its kind. It brings together a diverse, inclusive, and bilingual group of participants of workers, occupational health and safety experts, unions, activists, and academics united around common goals. We join together to: empower workers, make our workplaces safer, and reduce the toll of on-the-job injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. 
COSHCON19 is coming up December 3-5 in Baltimore, and we hope to see you there! Highlights include:
  • 40+ workshops and panels
  • Inspiring and diverse keynote speakers
  • Two-day Expo and Poster Contest
  • National COSH Awards Banquet
  • Great union-friendly facility with amenities for everyone
Click here for more information:
Need more convincing? Check out the video below featuring Worksafe's Managing Attorney, Jora Trang!
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