In 2011, Antonio Ramirez* was working in one of the Inland Empire’s warehouses. Assigned to clean out a metal freight container, Antonio spent several hours emptying and then sweeping the container, which reached an indoor heat level of over 100 degrees. When Antonio presented with symptoms of heat stroke, his employers failed to take any action to help him. Antonio was forced to call his son to take him to the hospital. He was hospitalized for three days due to heat stroke.
Jora Trang is Managing Attorney at WORKSAFE, an organization that works to protect people from job-related hazards and empower them to advocate for the right to a safe and healthy workplace.Jora specializes in employment/labor law and has worked for over 20 years to advance social justice issues affecting marginalized populations. From 1991 to 1996, she worked alongside students and organizers to assist and organize workers in Maquiladora factories, created the first Asian American women's feminist conference and UCSD’s first women of color in activism class, and worked in coalition with students and faculty to petition for a fully funded UCSD’s Women’s Center. Learn more about Jora.
By Jora Trang
Every year, thousands of workers are killed at work in the United States and hundreds in California. Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Federal OSHA has stated at, on average, 12 to 13 workers are killed every day nationwide. Worksafe’s analysis of 2015 Federal OSHA data show an estimated rate of one worker death on the job per week in Northern California alone. In California as a whole, close to four workers are killed each week.
Today, a lawsuit filed in December 2010 by Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance – on behalf of several farmworkers and a number of activist groups, including Worksafe, Inc., against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and Arysta LifeScience – heads back to court. At issue is the approval of methyl iodide for agricultural use here in California.
Methyl iodide is a particularly nasty carcinogen. Fifty-four eminent scientists, including six Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, called it “one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing” and questioned the wisdom of U.S. EPA’s approval of the chemical in the first place. It poses the most direct risks to farmworkers, particularly young workers, and neighboring communities; a team of independent scientists determined that it would likely result in exposures far above levels of concern, unless the size of spray buffer zones was “several hundred feet to several miles.”