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Release Number: 2019-40
April 26, 2019

DIR and Cal/OSHA Honor Workers’ Memorial Day

Oakland—The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day 2019 and honor California’s workers who lost their lives on the job. This international day of remembrance is held annually on April 28, the date Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which ensures all workers the right to a safe and healthful workplace.

“Observing Workers’ Memorial Day sends a strong reminder that workplace safety regulations are in place to prevent incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “We here at DIR and Cal/OSHA are committed to protecting workplaces every day of the year and ensuring safety rights are upheld.”

A total of 376 Californians lost their lives on the job in 2017, nearly half (46%) of them were Latino. The causes of death range from preventable accidents to workplace violence. These tragedies affect communities both large and small throughout the state.

Cal/OSHA was the first in the nation to adopt a statewide Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) standard in 1991 and also the first to adopt an emergency heat illness prevention regulation in 2005. The emergency regulation became law in 2006 and was amended in 2010 to add high-heat procedures to protect outdoor workers in industries including agriculture, construction, landscaping and oil and gas extraction. The heat illness prevention regulation was further amended in 2015 to increase worker access to water, lower the temperature trigger for shade and expand training for outdoor workers to recognize and address the signs and symptoms of heat illness.

Additionally, workers across the state 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 standard in the country and to be the only state to enact a standard to protect workers from aerosol transmissible diseases. Together these efforts help California maintain workplace injury and fatality rates below the national average.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, is the division within the Department of Industrial Relations that helps protect California’s workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace. Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers’ Information line at 866-924-9757 provides recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR’s press releases or other departmental updates.