Gail Bateson is executive director of Worksafe. She has worked for various unions, labor support organizations and government agencies on workplace health and safety issues over the last 30 years. Most recently she spearheaded the creation of the Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP), which she led for the last six summers while also working in the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health. She has worked on policy and program development, curriculum development, and training in many areas of occupational health, with special interest in disciplines that focus on early detection and elimination of hazards through human factors, process safety, workplace organization, and expanded workers’ rights.

Dying at Work in California

, a 30-year old solar panel installer, stepped backwards off the roof of a multi-story apartment building in San Pablo, California. He was not wearing personal fall protection equipment and fell to his death.

In October 2010, two Northern California healthcare workers died in separate incidents of workplace violence. Cynthia Barraca Palomata, a registered nurse, was attacked and killed by an inmate at the Martinez county jail. The same month, Donna Gross, a psychiatric technician, was strangled and killed by an inmate at Napa State Hospital.

Last month, a Stockton judge accepted a plea deal allowing criminal defendants to escape any jail time in the 2008 heat death of pregnant 17-year old farm worker Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Maria Isabel died of a heat-related illness after working nine straight hours, without access to water or shade, in the boiling heat of the grape fields of Stockton.