In the last two years, the California Legislature has provided the Department of Industrial Relations with significantly increased financial resources to enhance the effectiveness of Cal/OSHA and better protect the 19 million workers in the state. DIR has failed to take full advantage of these resources to strengthen Cal/OSHA while at the same time it has provided refunds to employers who have paid the fees that generate these unused resources. The net effect is a Cal/OSHA that is weaker and less effective than it could be if all available resources were put to work. The people who pay the cost of these resources “left on the table” are the workers of California and their families and communities.
Labor unions are becoming de facto immigrant rights groups; Trump pick to head MSHA is a former coal executive; Cal/OSHA opens more investigations into Goodwill’s safety conditions; and a new memorial honors first responders who became ill after exposures during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Scholars at research institutions and non-profit organizations had a busy year publishing their findings on the impact of work on health. The final section of “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health & Safety” offers our picks for the best publications from the peer-reviewed and grey literature.
At the federal level, worker safety and health policies swung from high points to low points over the last 12 months. Those highs and lows–from new OSHA protections issued by the Obama administration to proposed rollbacks of funding and regulations by the Trump administration. Many of the highs and lows are described in the sixth edition of The Year in U.S. Occupational Health and Safety.