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Working Californians Left Vulnerable as Indoor Heat Safety Standard Goes Abandoned

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Working Californians Left Vulnerable as Indoor Heat Safety Standard Goes Abandoned
Statewide Labor Coalition Furious as Critical Vote on Indoor Heat Standard is
Pulled Back

Sacramento, CA – (Thursday, March 21, 2024) – Wearing stickers reading, “Heat Kills,” laundry workers, farmworkers, janitors, steelworkers, fast food workers, stagehand technicians, construction and shipyard workers, packed into a hearing room to decry the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s last minute cancellation of their vote on the Heat Illness Prevention in Indoor Places of Employment Standard.

A statewide coalition of public and private sector unions and worker advocates condemned the decision to pull this key vote from the hearing agenda without public notice. Californians face dire working conditions because of extreme heat. While the State of California fails to take action, workers are suffering the consequences.

“Our coalition of unions and worker advocates have been pushing Cal/OSHA to do its job and approve regulations that finally protect workers from extreme indoor heat. It’s outrageous that after years of advocacy, on the eve of the vote to finally pass this overdue heat standard, we learned that it was pulled from the agenda with no prior notice or explanation,” said Lorena Gonzalez, Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation, representing 1,300 unions and 2.3 million union members. “It’s shameful that the state of California is turning a blind eye to preventable workplace injuries and deaths. The state’s failure to take action means workers in restaurants, schools, manufacturing, hospitals, and warehouses continue suffering each day they go without any real, enforceable protections from indoor heat exposure.”

California unions have sounded the alarm for rigorous and enforceable indoor heat stress protections and demanded action for years. The California Labor Federation, along with many other unions, have conveyed the urgency of this issue since SB 1167 (Mendoza) was introduced in 2016 directing Cal/OSHA to propose and adopt a heat stress standard by 2019.

High heat leads to a wide range of health issues and workplace injuries, and without proper care and precaution, can lead to heat stroke and death. As climate change brings record heat, working Californians increasingly find themselves in the impossible situation of having to choose between risking their lives to go to work, or risking their livelihood to stay safe.

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,300 affiliated unions in California with over 2.3 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.
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