On April 28th, 2022, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Cal/OSHA officially honored Workers’ Memorial Day. It is a global day of remembrance to honor those who have lost their lives to a workplace accident or occupational disease. Workers’ Memorial Day also serves as an important reminder that we need to do more to ensure workplace safety.
Unfortunately, catastrophic workplace accidents remain a serious problem in California and throughout the nation. The most recent comprehensive report on fatal workplace accidents (December 2021) found that 463 workers in California died from a job-related injury or occupational disease in 2020.
As part of Workers’ Memorial Day, the DIR and CAL/OSHA are highlighting some of the key changes made to our state’s workplace safety standards in recent years. Regulators emphasize the importance of helping to keep workers safe and reduce the risk of catastrophic incidents. Here are three key state-level workplace safety advances:
- California Put Comprehensive COVID-19 Workplace Protections in Place: The COVID-19 pandemic posed a serious threat to worker safety, especially in critical industries such as health care and public safety. State regulators put comprehensive COVID-19 workplace safety standards in place to help stop the spread. Further, there were emergency regulations that helped make it easier for some employers to qualify for workers’ comp benefits for COVID-19 exposure.
- California Took Action to Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat and Smoke: California has long been on the forefront of outdoor worker safety. In 2005, state officials put heat-related worker safety regulations in place for outdoor workers. More recently, state regulators also crafted wildfire smoke related regulations.
- California has the Most Expansive Workplace Violation Protection Standard: State officials have also put an emphasis on workplace violation prevention—especially in the healthcare industry. Sadly, hospital staff and other health care workers are subject to shockingly high rates of workplace violence. The anti-workplace violence regulations are designed to ensure that health care employers put the proper safety protocols in place.
While there have been some important reforms, there is still a long way to go to make California’s workplace as safe as they should be. According to data published by the National Safety Council (NSC), California is far from the national leader in avoiding workplace fatalities. The worker fatality rate in California is 2.9 per 100,000. It is better than the national average, but not quite as good as some of the leaders in workplace safety, such as Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Delaware.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a top workers’ comp lawyer. Attorney Yrulegui is committed to superior client service. If you or your loved one was involved in a catastrophic workplace accident, we can help. Contact us now for a review of your case. We represent injured workers throughout all of Fresno County, including in Fresno, Clovis, Reedley, and Sanger.