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Release Number: 2022-38
Date: April 28, 2022

DIR and Cal/OSHA Honor Workers’ Memorial Day

Oakland—On Workers’ Memorial Day 2022, 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, ensuring all workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace.

“We observe Workers’ Memorial Day to honor all of the workers who lost their lives on the job,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip. “Workplace safety regulations are critically important in preventing tragedies from occurring at work. Our team stands ready to support employers and workers with workplace safety and health guidance, trainings and on-site consultation to prevent workplace death, injury or illness.”

According to the most recent data available in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released in December 2021, 463 Californians died from work injuries in 2020. In addition, many workers have 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 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards, which were adopted to strengthen infection prevention requirements to keep employees safe, and gives workers information on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of disease. 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.

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 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. This 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.

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. California also adopted 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.

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.

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.

Workers who have questions about COVID-19 hazards, heat illness prevention and wildfire smoke protections can call 833-579-0927 to speak with a Cal/OSHA representative during normal business hours. Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices.

Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@dir.ca.gov, 510-286-1161.