Health and Safety at Work
Hazardous conditions, wildfires, air quality, pesticide drift

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Health & Safety Rights: Facts for California Workers

Health & Safety Rights: Facts for California Workers is the Cal/OSHA pamphlet that summarizes your workplace safety rights and what to do when they are violated. It explains your right to file a complaint, your right to refuse hazardous work, your right to documents and records about workplace hazards, and your employer’s requirement to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

How to File a Workplace Safety Complaint

Workers have the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973. Cal/OSHA is the state agency that investigates and enforces health and safety requirements in California workplaces. The name of any person who submits a complaint must be kept confidential by law, unless the person requests otherwise. You can make a complaint online or phone (866)-924-9757 and press or say “2” and then enter the zip code of your job site.

Worker Safety and Health in Wildfire Regions

If you are in an area where outdoor air quality has been deemed unhealthy or greater by the local government agency, the California Department of Industrial Relations and Cal/OSHA offer lots of information about protecting outdoor workers and indoor workplaces from smoke caused by wildfires. The page can also be viewed in Spanish.

Air Quality Index

  • EPA’s AirNow calculator reports the Air Quality Index in your area after simply entering your zip code. AirNow is also available as an app for your mobile device. 
  • PurpleAir, although run by a private company, is another guide to air quality that may report even more localized data and microclimates.

Pesticide Drift Near Schools

The persistent efforts of AFT local unions in the Monterey Bay region to protect students and educators from pesticide drift at schools in close proximity to agricultural fields has resulted in improved protections from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

  • Pesticide applications are now prohibited within a quarter mile of schools and facilities between 6 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Growers must give annual notice to county agricultural commissioners of the pesticides they intend to use, and notify public K-12 schools and licensed daycare facilities in advance of using them nearby. In addition, some pesticide applications near these school sites are prohibited at certain times.

The Watsonville Safe Ag Safe Schools Committee continues to fight for a California ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to damage babies’ brains. It also asks school boards to stop application of the carcinogen glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide – on school campuses.