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Assembly Labor Chair Ash Kalra Responds to New Statewide Emergency Workplace Pandemic Standard

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – The State’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board voted unanimously yesterday to adopt stricter safety measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment, whose committee held an informational hearing Tuesday with Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker and statewide stakeholders on safeguarding frontline workers during the pandemic, released a statement today in response to the new rule:

"The new emergency standard adopted by the state comes at a critical time when the safety of our workers, especially those on the frontlines, has been severely compromised due to the pandemic. Immigrant workers, workers in low-wage jobs, and workers of color have been among the hardest-hit during this crisis, and while many are deemed essential, they have been treated as though they are sacrificial. The emergency standard will provide us with stronger tools to compel employers to follow basic protocols and ensure that more vigorous COVID-related health and safety measures are in place to protect and empower workers. I am excited to see how these measures are rolled out to workers in what I hope will be a robust education campaign.”

The informational hearing this week emphasized the need for stronger workplace health and safety protections during the coronavirus pandemic, including an across the board standard, and highlighted frontline worker perspectives from the hospitality, warehousing, food service, and agriculture industries.

According to a report released this week by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, about 5.7 million Californians typically work in frontline industries, representing about 30 percent of all workers.