ONTARIO, Calif. -  More than eight years after the California Legislature passed and the governor signed protections for California workers who labor indoors into law, the members of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to pass the regulations giving employers clearer standards regarding precautions for workers in indoor worksites in high temperatures.

Warehouse workers and advocates have testified before Cal/OSHA and the Standards Board about the urgent need for indoor heat protections for workers in physical occupations many times prior to a final vote of the Board. In March, the Standards Board also voted to pass the protections only to have them withdrawn and rewritten to exclude the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Since the March meeting, the Chair of the Board was demoted and one member removed. 

Statement from Tim Shadix, Legal Director for the Warehouse Worker Resource Center

“We have never taken our eyes off the goal – protections for all California workers from heat. The road to get to the vote today has been long, but we hope there are no further delays and employees and employers are informed of these new protections before summer’s end. As we experience more extreme heat and longer and hotter summers, especially in the Inland Empire, it is absolutely essential that employers do more to prevent heat illness, including cooling work areas and providing for water and rest.”

Regarding the changes to the Standards Board, Shadix offered: 

“Board members Stock and Thomas brought professionalism and deep and practical experience to their roles. They made the Board stronger and we are disappointed that they appear to be experiencing retaliation for simply moving worker protections forward.” 

Background

In 2016 the Warehouse Worker Resource Center supported legislation introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva that created standards for indoor workers. The legislation came after Domingo Blancas, a warehouse worker in Chino, Calif., fell ill while working on a hot summer day. He was hospitalized for several days. Cal/OSHA cited the warehouse operator and the temp agency for failing to adequately identify, evaluate, correct, or train workers on the hazards of heat exposure and heat illness. 

The California Legislature passed SB1167 and it was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown that same year. The legislation called on the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to draft new standards by January 2019. Six years after the law was enacted,  the Cal/OSHA Standards Board held its first hearing on the proposal and on June 20 the Standards Board voted to pass an amended standard into effect. 

The Warehouse Worker Resource Center alongside warehouse workers has been fighting – and winning – for protections from these dangerous conditions. A full timeline of the WWRC’s efforts is here

Media Contact: media@warehouseworkers.org

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About the WWRC

The Warehouse Worker Resource Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization founded in 2011 dedicated to improving working conditions in the warehouse industry in Southern California. The WWRC builds worker power through education, advocacy, and collective action to improve working conditions for the hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers in the Inland Region and Southern California.