August 2021

How to Make Cal/OSHA Stronger:

Our Sac Bee Op-Ed


The Sacramento Bee is doing some very solid reporting on Covid workplace safety issues, and we were glad to amplify on that work with this opinion piece that ran July 21 in the Bee:
We need a new model for California’s worker safety agency, backed by the resources to make work safe...
Cal-OSHA must first staff up and diversify in order to meet the challenge of protecting today’s workplaces... These positions must be filled quickly with a diverse, multilingual workforce that has the tools to connect with today’s workers and employers.
Cal-OSHA must also look ahead to new threats to worker’s safety — such as the dangers caused by heat and pandemics. The agency’s rule-making process, particularly for chemical hazards, is so ponderous it cannot remotely keep up with regulating the thousands of chemicals that today’s workers are exposed to on the job...
Lastly, California must empower Cal-OSHA to levy meaningful fines and collect them. A Sacramento Bee investigation found that employers have paid just 3% of fines assessed for failing to protect workers from COVID-19. The rest have ignored their responsibility or ensnared the agency in a lengthy appeals process.
Employers can break the rules with impunity when they know Cal-OSHA lacks the power to enforce them. The public record of COVID-19 citations issued to date makes clear that evading worker safety measures is not a problem for just a few bad apples.
Many of you on this list are long-time experts - we’d be glad to hear from you about what you think the agency needs to adapt to this new era.

Worksafe Engages US Labor Secretary Walsh

National COSH met with US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on August 2, 2021. In the meeting, Worksafe Director of Development and Operations Thais Forneret, who currently serves as vice-chair on the National COSH Board, shared National COSH's appreciation for his efforts on advancing an emergency temporary standard covering healthcare workers. And she urged the Administration to move forward with workplace protections for all workers, to insure the health of the public and of those who can’t be vaccinated.

New Staff

Please meet our new Administrative Coordinator, German Jimenez. German was raised in Los Angeles and spent a number of years as a law practice professional in various fields. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. German is excited about the pivot from for-profit firms so that he could concentrate more on social equity and helping fellow BIPOC individuals.
New Board Members
Worksafe is glad to welcome three new members to our Board of DirectorsVeronica Alvarado, Deputy Director with Warehouse Workers Resource Center, has been a worker advocate for 15 years. Veronica has brought Worksafe and WWRC together to bring attention to indoor heat illness that workers are being subjected to in the warehouse industry. Deogracia Cornelia (below center) is dedicated to advancing social justice through social service and social research, with a focus on gender, race and class, and their impact in interpersonal and inter-group communication and the production of knowledge. She worked at UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program (LOSH) as Associate Director of Education, and has an M.A. in Latin American Studies and Anthropology from the University of Florida. Will Rostov is currently a San Francisco City Attorney on the Energy & Telecommunications Team. Will’s father worked as a union organizer and as an attorney for unions; Will brings an interest in Worksafe’s campaigns on toxic chemicals and wildfire smoke as they relate to his environmental work.
Veronica Alvarado

ERC Awarded Non-Profit of the Year

Speaking of Worksafe’s Board, we are glad to share the recognition received by our own Board Chair Alor Calderon. Alor leads the Employment Rights Center (ERC) in San Diego, which was just awarded Non Profit of the Year by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. Congratulations to all the great folks at ERC! We are proud to be with you in the struggle for workers' rights.

Huge Study Finds Heat in the Workplace is Far Worse than Recorded

As reported in the NY Times, researchers have documented a vast undercount of heat-related workplace injuries, after building an innovative database of 11 million California workers’ compensation injury reports from 2001 to 2018, combined with high temperatures for each location. 
"On days when the temperature was between 85 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers found that the overall risk of workplace injuries, regardless of the official cause, was 5 to 7 percent higher than days when the temperatures were in the 60s. When temperature tops 100 degrees, the overall risk of injuries was 10 to 15 percent greater."
Their work has powerful implications for public policy around heat in the workplace, and the issue is generating significant new concern and attention. Also found in the data: evidence that heat regulations in California, which were passed in 2005, reduced the link between temperature and injuries by a third.
California Senators Padilla and Feinstein are among those pushing for long-delayed action on heat by Federal OSHA, and Worksafe continues to advocate for implementation of indoor heat rules by the state.
Worksafe is Hiring! Please help us get the word out about this exciting opportunity to serve as Program Coordinator and support our community work with the Northern California Day Labor Network.
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