Oakland—Today – April 28th, 2020, is Worker’s Memorial Day in California when the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) commemorate the workers who have lost their lives on the job in California.
This international day of remembrance is held annually on April 28, the date Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which guarantees all workers the right to a safe and healthful workplace.
422 workers lost their lives in California in 2018. California’s rate of fatal workplace incidents per 100,000 workers remains stable with slight fluctuations since 2008, and has consistently been lower than the national rate.
Cal/OSHA was the first in the nation to adopt a general industry Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) regulation in 1991, to set a standard for all employers across the state on identifying, preventing, and training employees on workplace hazards.
In a news release, DIR stated that workers in California are protected by permissible exposure limits that go beyond the corresponding federal minimums, and cover a wider variety of chemicals.
California is proud to have adopted the most comprehensive workplace violence prevention in health care standards in the country, and the only state to enact a standard to protect health care workers and other workers from aerosol transmissible diseases.
To address the hazards related to COVID-19, Cal/OSHA has posted infection prevention guidance for employers and workers. This guidance helps employers comply with requirements to keep employees safe, and gives workers information on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of disease.
Workers in the state are also protected by the nation’s first heat illness prevention regulation, which was adopted on an emergency basis in 2005 and subsequently amended to add high-heat procedures and other important requirements to protect outdoor workers and set baseline requirements for water, rest and shade to prevent heat illness.
After the most destructive fire season in the state’s history in 2018, Cal/OSHA adopted an emergency regulation to protect workers from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke and is working to make the regulation permanent.
Altogether, these efforts provide California workers with greater protections and maintain workplace injury and fatality rates below the national average.