Without adequate oversight, there is little incentive for employers to protect workers during wildfire season.
“The safety conditions in the Dirty Dozen show we need more enforcement of our safety laws, not less,” says former OSHA official Jordan Barab. He describes proposed federal OSHA budget cuts under the Trump administration as “penny-wise and pound-foolish” for workers and taxpayers.
Dan Berman is a Davis, California-based author, researcher and teacher with a wry sense of humor and deep wisdom regarding labor union and social justice activism for healthy workplaces.
I have been working at the Wilshire Grand Center construction project for a year and a half as a filmmaker trying to capture the daily effort and skill that goes into building our city’s tallest structure. I have approached this three-year project with respect – like one who surfs big waves or climbs our highest mountains – aware of the dangers and humbled by the power and vastness of the environment. I’ve seen many construction workers make the sign of the cross as they arrive in the morning – a gesture of faith and an appeal for safety and guidance. At safety meetings every morning, they are reminded that the main goal is to go home to their families and friends at the end of the day.
Yesterday, one of those workers – an electrician – fell to his death from the 53rd floor. The state’s occupational safety agency,
The horrific collapse of a Bangladeshi garment factory has sparked appropriate global outrage, with advocates, pundits and politicians calling for tougher laws to protect exploited workers in Third World countries. Yet this tragedy, like many before it, seems far removed from the reality of the American workplace.
It isn’t nearly as remote as we might think — a fact eerily underscored by the deadly fertilizer plant fire in Texas that preceded the Bangladeshi catastrophe.
While the surreal quality of the Texas disaster was somewhat unique, the deaths and injuries caused by it were not. Every year thousands of American workers die on the job, and hundreds of thousands are injured.
The reason? Lax worker safety laws, and weak enforcement of those that do exist. Another way of putting it is that we are letting men and women die simply by failing to afford them basic protections.
It was a gruesome factory accident —
Two local Thursday events will mark preparations for the annual Workers’ Memorial Day that will be observed nationally on Sunday. Today’s morning activities center on the unveiling of a work-in-progress mural depicting the contributions of immigrant workers and the release of the annual “Dying at Work in California” report. The survey tallies the cost of job-related deaths, injuries and illnesses and tells the stories of the 196 Los Angeles workers killed on the job last year. These stories include:
Seven workers at the Embassy Suites hotel in Irvine have filed a complaint with Cal/OSHA against the parent company, HEI Hotels and Resorts, about the hotel’s so-called safety program. These workers, who are currently in an organizing campaign with UNITE HERE Local 11, say that this program discourages workers from reporting injuries on the job to reach the goal of an “accident-free workplace.”
Now Cal/OSHA is investigating HEI’s “Safety Bingo” program, which offers up to $25,000 or a new car as the grand prize. “Safety Bingo” promotes a blame-the-worker mentality instead of addressing the real hazards that exist.
“They could be using that prize money instead to fix the hazards and protect workers from getting injured in the first place,” says Andrea Nicholls, Health and Safety Coordinator at the L.A. County Federation of Labor, who is assisting the workers throughout the investigation.
This case, if successful, will set a new precedent in California in combatting employer programs that appear to prevent accidents,