Can you imagine a time when you could go to work, get injured, and have no recourse whatsoever?! Until workers started to organize in the 20th century and push for safe standards on the job, this was the case for generations of men, women, and children. For decades workers across industries fought to have employers voluntarily adopt regulations to keep their workers safe and provide benefits in the event a worker got injured while working.
Unsuprisingly, providing safe working conditions voluntarily wasn’t cutting it. For years, Labor unions worked tirelessly to create a system of enforcement for workplace safety. A three year uphill battle resulted in a major victory for workers: The Job Safety Law/Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was signed into law! This law ensures safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.
According to the Department of Labor:
“before OSHA was created 45 years ago, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job every year. Today, workplaces are much safer and healthier, going from 38 fatal injuries a day to 12”
Today, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (better known as Cal/OSHA) oversees workplace safety for millions of Californians and enforces a wide range of regulations from safe patient handling in hospitals to heat illness prevention on the job and much more. The department provides a safe and legal path for workers to submit complaints about unsafe or hazardous working conditions in order to improve job site safety.
However there is still more work to be done. Hundreds die every year in California on the job and thousands more are injured.
Stay tuned for our #Forward Friday post tomorrow featuring work that is happening today to improve workplace safety and provide safety nets for workers and their families in the event something tragic occurs on the job.