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Release Number: 2021-50
April 28, 2021

DIR and Cal/OSHA Honor Workers’ Memorial Day

Oakland—On Workers’ Memorial Day 2021, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) commemorate the workers who have lost their lives due to work-related injuries and illnesses 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 to ensure all workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace.

“California workers have been challenged by unprecedented obstacles in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker. “Today we honor the workers who lost their lives from work-related injuries and illnesses and reaffirm our commitment to preventing workplace safety and health hazards.”

According to the most recent data available in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released in December 2020, 451 Californians died from work injuries and illnesses in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, many workers lost their lives or were hospitalized after getting COVID-19 at work.

To address the hazards related to COVID-19, Cal/OSHA posted guidance for employers and workers. The Division also enforces the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which were adopted to strengthen infection prevention requirements. The Emergency Temporary Standards are in addition to the protections afforded specifically to workers in health care and other industries, which are covered by the nation’s only permanent standard on workplace aerosol transmissible disease prevention.

DIR and Cal/OSHA are committed to raising awareness of workplace safety and health requirements by educating employers on their responsibilities and informing workers of their rights. Cal/OSHA offers free assistance to employers and workers, creates guidance and educational materials in multiple languages, organizes outreach events and more to share information on what’s required to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

In 1991, Cal/OSHA was the first in the nation to adopt a general industry standard for all employers across the state on identifying, preventing and training employees on workplace hazards with the Injury and Illness Prevention Program regulation. California also adopted the nation’s first heat illness prevention regulation for outdoor workers and the most comprehensive workplace violence prevention in health care standard in the country. Workers in California are also protected by permissible exposure limits that go beyond the corresponding federal minimums and cover a wider variety of chemicals.

After one the most destructive fire seasons in the state’s history in 2018, Cal/OSHA adopted an emergency regulation to protect workers from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke. The regulation became permanent in February 2021. All together, these efforts provide California workers with greater protections and 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).

Contact: Erika Monterroza / Frank Polizzi, Communications@dir.ca.gov, (510) 286-1161.