January 2020

CA Workers Get New Access to Workplace Injury & Illness Prevention Plans

While workplace health and safety laws apply to everyone regardless of immigration status, gaining equitable access to these rights remains a constant struggle. Many workers – especially low-wage, immigrant workers and workers of color – face barriers to getting basic information about workplace conditions from their employer. 

Consider this story: a group of immigrant workers at a warehouse, workers with no union representation, requested information from their employer about their workplace health and safety conditions. Instead of providing this basic information, the employer called the police and claimed the workers were trespassing. This triggered immigration consequences for the workers, especially those who were undocumented. 

California has some of the most progressive health and safety laws in the nation, particularly our “right to know” laws. Our Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) standard requires employers to have a written plan that identifies hazards and establishes protocols to protect workers. Until recently, however, the standard did not explicitly state that workers and their advocates could actually access or obtain a copy of the plan. 

Thankfully, this serious omission is now being addressed. On January 16th, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to add the requirement that employers provide workers or their designated representative unobstructed access to, and a copy of, the IIPP. This change gives workers, worker advocates, worker centers, and unions the right to access crucial information contained within the IIPP. This enables workers and their representatives to organize more effectively to improve workplace health and safety.

The revised IIPP standard is an important tool. Unfortunately, access to such tools remains inequitable due to intersectional barriers and forms of retaliation. Advocates must continuously fight to ensure that the most vulnerable workers – like those in the above story – have access to this and other health and safety rights. As experts in their own workplace, workers can advance solutions that prevent injuries and save lives.

En Lucha,
Nicole Marquez-Baker
Senior Staff Attorney
Worksafe Welcomes New Director

We are excited to announce that Stephen Knight has joined the Worksafe team as our new Executive Director. Stephen has a extensive background as an advocate for social and economic justice – his career has been dedicated to work on economic inequality, affordable housing, refugees, and the environment.
Q: Why Worksafe?
We face deep, historic inequality across the American economy and workplace. I came to Worksafe to help advance public policy to counteract these trends that are tilting the balance of power against working people. Great fortunes are being accumulated through the manipulation of labor rules and standards, including new business empires constructed by companies that found a way to have virtually no "employees." The accumulation of wealth and the power that those resources can buy are arrayed in a more deeply unequal way than this country has seen in generations. This inequality is a threat to our democracy, and its consequences are being felt by working women and men every day. Worksafe and the coalitions we support stand at the intersection of multiple threads of vital advocacy to hold business and government accountable to their obligations to keep the workplace safe and healthy for all.
Q: What are you most excited about as you start at Worksafe?
I am excited to work alongside and learn from the dedicated team that has built Worksafe into the advocacy powerhouse it is today – staff and board members alike. And I welcome the challenge of supporting the organization’s health and sustainability so that we can grow stronger together. Luckily, the changing political environment in Sacramento seems to make this a good time to advance progressive reforms to benefit all California workers.

Read Stephen's full bio and more Q&A here.

Big Thanks to Our Supporters

We're pleased to report that our 2019 end-of-year fundraiser was a great success. We exceeded our $20k goal and secured a $10k matching gift along the way. We are humbled by this outpouring of support, and we are eager to jump into another exciting year advocating for workplace safety, health, and justice in California.

Didn't get a chance to donate before the end of 2019? No worries – we're always grateful for donations that help sustain our work. Visit our donation page to learn more!

What We're Reading
  • Injuries at Fresno’s Amazon Warehouse Double CA Industry Average (Fresno Bee)
  • When Anti-Immigrant Mania Endangers Public Safety (The American Prospect)
  • Rising Temperatures Put More US Workers of Dying from Heat (The Guardian)
  • Why Do So Many US Workers Fall to Their Deaths? (The Guardian)

Check out Worksafe's 2019 Impact Report to learn more about our recent policy victories, legal services, trainings, and more.

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