IR #2010-09
April 28, 2010

Krisann Chasarik
Dean Fryer


Workers' Memorial Day: DIR honors California's Workforce while improving workplace safety

San Francisco—the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) salutes California workers on Worker’s Memorial Day, recognizing the dedication and sacrifices they make while contributing to the success of the state. In remembering and honoring those who have been injured or died on the job in California, DIR strives to continuously strengthen workplace safety. 

“On Worker’s Memorial Day, let us honor the courage and integrity of California’s workers,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan.  “We recognize the great contributions each worker makes and continue to focus on improving California’s workplace safety culture through strengthening our standards and gaining employer compliance.”

California is on the forefront of workplace safety: It is one of 26 states and territories that administer a federally-approved occupational safety and health state plan. And Cal/OSHA develops and promulgates its own workplace safety and health standards in addition to complying with federal standards—one of only three programs in the nation to do so.

“We develop our standards through open dialogue with business, labor unions, the public and academia,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “Our workers deserve the opportunity to do an honest day’s work and return home safely to their families. With the broad and diverse industry base that exists in our state, we know we have to continue to find new approaches to safety with each new work environment.”

California has a long history of improving workplace safety and health. Workplace protections instituted in California include:

Cal/OSHA is currently partnering with state agencies and the flavor-manufacturing industry to adopt the nation’s first standard for limiting worker exposure to diacetyl. Diacetyl, an artificial food flavoring, has been linked with a debilitating and deadly lung disease. 

“Our Strategic Vision is to promote workplace safety and health by motivating employers and employees to be actively involved in preventing hazards,” added Welsh.  “From past injury and fatalities suffered on the job, we have learned what is needed to provide greater protections for future workers in California.” 

California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard—the first in the nation—demonstrates the effectiveness of this collaborative approach. Following implementation, workplace fatalities attributed to heat illness declined from 12 in 2005, to one in 2009.

“Education and outreach are a vital part of our success,” said Welsh. “When this regulation was first implemented employer compliance was 32.5%. That level of compliance increased to 74% in 2009 following four years of partnering and outreach.” 

 “Our efforts to protect California’s most vulnerable workers continue,” added Director Duncan. “As we improve workplace safety and help employers gain compliance, we know that more workers will be returning home safely to their families after their day’s work—and that is the way it should be.”

I recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day, Governor Schwarzenegger has issued a proclamation which can be viewed at

Employers who want to learn more about Cal/OSHA and how to reduce workplace injuries can get information at the DIR Web site at For assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation unit—a free services—employers can call (800) 963-9424. Employees with work-related questions or complaints can call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757.

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