Happy Holidays!

LOSH End of Year Newsletter 2020

Happy Holidays from UCLA LOSH! This past year exposed the cracks and inequities in our public health, social, political and economic systems. It also highlighted the critical importance of safe jobs. Once hidden in the shadows, COVID-19 put worker health and safety front and center.

LOSH faced the challenge of responding to a growing number of requests for information about COVID-19. We have fortunately been able to work from home, transitioning to zoom meetings and virtual training, integrating COVID-19 information into our courses and working with our partners and our funders to advance policies to protect workers, their families and the public.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support in the past year. We wish you peace and a chance to relax and renew – and we look forward to working with you in the year ahead!

2020 has been a year like no other, presenting new obstacles that have affected our communities, our families, and each of us individually. The LOSH team reflected on struggles and lessons learned throughout the year. We share these below and welcome your reflections on how we can collectively support one another to sustain us into the future.

Greetings and all the best for 2021!

I am preparing, with mixed emotions, to leave my position as Director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Program and as faculty in the UCLA School of Public Health. I am proud of what we have collectively been able to accomplish while I also recognize the critical need to strengthen our efforts in the years ahead.

I want to thank the LOSH staff who have supported one another and renewed our commitment to workers as we faced the challenges of the past year. I thank our partners – some of the most dynamic and innovative leaders in the labor movement, the community, the university, and in our regional consortium – as well as our trainers and funders who make our programs possible.

Special thanks to former Director Marianne Brown and to long-time partner SoCalCOSH (previously LACOSH); both paved the way to bring me into the world of worker health and safety. And many thanks for ongoing support to the UCLA Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and the Labor Center – and to our long-time funders, the NIEHS Worker Training Program and the CA Commission on Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation.

I am deeply honored to have received the Change Maker award from the UCLA Labor Center and the first ever Eula Bingham award given by the National Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (COSH).  I have been so inspired by the awesome worker activists who also received awards and by my work with all of you over the years to build a movement that advances worker justice and safe jobs.

Together with our partners, we have been able to:

  • Expand LOSH programs to protect workers from emerging threats – the coronavirus, wildfires, extreme heat and more.
  • Support workforce development and environmental justice organizations to create sustainable jobs for workers.
  • Expand innovative projects to connect students and interns with worker organizations as part of the Occupational Health Internship Program.
  • Conduct research to inform critical policy decisions to protect all workers and communities from heat, wildfires, refinery and warehouse hazards – and to extend protections for domestic workers and day laborers.
  • Strengthen the network of health and safety activists, young workers, immigrant worker advocates and promotor@s in Southern California and create avenues for dialogue between workers and government agencies.
  • Train small businesses to identify hazards and engage workers in more effective health and safety programs.
  • Support innovative public health programs to confront the pandemic, educate employers and build worker leaders to stop coronavirus transmission in workplaces, families and communities.
  • Speak out for racial justice in support of Black Lives Matter.

Our annual WMD event was particularly poignant this year. So many workers right here in Southern California are on the frontlines and we know workers of color are especially at risk. Workers are tragically exposed to unsafe conditions in our hospitals and schools. They lack protection as they grow, process and sell our food, make our clothes, pack and ship our products.

The pandemic has highlighted the cracks in our public health, economic, political  and social systems, further widening the gap between those with access to resources and those who bear the brunt of economic injustice, racism, lack of political power, and inequitable access to health care and job protections.

We are saddened and mourn the many who have died in the past year – and we commit renewed efforts to embark on a new year together, a year that respects diversity, dialogue and justice for all workers.

With gratitude,

Linda Delp

Photo taken during 8-Hour Refresher July course.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, LOSH made the tough decision of suspending all in-person training for the foreseeable future. Yet with some creative thinking and the support of several of our consultant-instructors, we have managed to transition some of our courses into “risk-free” virtual training experiences over the past several months. Above all, we have aimed to provide the same high-quality course content and interactive engagement in an online realm.

In the case of our hazmat worker training courses, LOSH has been proud to continue delivering high-quality safety courses for workers engaged in hazardous waste handling, storage, cleanup, and removal. We have conducted six virtual trainings to date, with participants across various sectors—from the California Department of Public Health to the U.S. Navy Corps—and from multiple areas of the state. We have certified over 120 trainees through these courses, and we plan to roll out a new calendar of virtual courses for 2021.

Comments from trainees after the course:

  • Just really good all around. It is difficult to make things interesting in this zoom environment, but you all did a good job of choosing relevant topics and making them interesting.
  • In 17 years, this was the best 8-hour HAZWOPER refresher course I have taken. Way to go!
  • With the way things are anymore, it was nice to have this offered in virtual format, especially since I live/work in FAR northern California, and there’s not a whole lot of options for training offered close by.
  • I like the use of white board on zoom-really great use of zoom features.

Jerrell Lewis, photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center. Jerrell Lewis participated in the Summer cohort of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center’s workforce and leadership development program (Ready to Work). Jerrell not only successfully completed the program, but now has a career as a union worker! For full story on Jerrell, follow @labwc on Facebook and other social media.

Due to the COVID -19 pandemic, LOSH’s Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) has faced challenges in promoting and integrating health & safety training into our programs.

In compliance with public health department guidelines, most of our partner organizations had to shut down their programs or quickly adapt to a virtual teaching/learning setting.

LOSH is pleased to continue supporting our partners at the Los Angeles Black Worker Center’s (LABWC)- Ready to Work (R2W) workforce development program through on-line classes. We provided a series of Health and Safety training and OSHA 10-hour certificate to participants that attended the R2W program beginning in May 2020 through November 2020.

During this time, the LABWC-R2W program recruited, trained, and graduated 31 individuals, in four cohorts, for a career in construction union and the City of LA’s Targeted Local Hire Program. Graduates continue to receive on-going support from LABWC in industry mentorship, occupational coaching, and job placement referrals.

Photo taken during WOSH Specialist training with Teamsters Local 2010 in August.

This year, the WOSHTEP team completed virtual Worker Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Training for two cohorts from Teamsters Local 2010. The interactive educational leadership course prepares workers to take an active role in improving health and safety conditions in their workplaces. The program covers topics such as COVID-19, wildfire smoke, and heat illness through a participatory curriculum which aims at reducing job related injuries and illnesses among California workers.

Comments from trainees after the course:

  • I would never of known that this was the first virtual training from the quality of the course. I have completed several courses virtually and this was the best learning experience of them all.
  • The virtual class sessions were well organized, easy to access, and overall went very smoothly both in the main and breakout rooms in Zoom. The instructors and facilitators presented the information in a well-thought-out format. The entire course was great!
  • Everything that was presented was well thought out. It got each person involved and was applicable for your job and related field.
  • The best course I have been involved in in my 40+ years. Thank you to everyone involved.
  • Everything was great in this challenging online world for the first time hats off!

Photo taken during IIPP training with small business owners in August.

In collaboration with State Fund and Cal/OSHA, the WOSHTEP team also facilitated two 4-hour virtual Injury and Illness Prevention Program courses in August. This course teaches employers to develop and implement an effective health and safety program at their workplaces that meets the requirements of Cal/OSHA’s IIPP standard. Participants learned about useful tools to develop and improve their IIPPs as well as update their plans to prevent COVID-19 exposure at their workplaces.

Comments from trainees after the course:

  • Class was wonderful. I specifically appreciate that the speakers were not monotone. It is much easier to learn from energetic speakers.
  • I’ll be using all of the resources to figure out how to create and implement an effective program.
  • Everything went well. The flow was perfect, time flew by!
  • Would love to eventually have an in-person course but I have no suggestions, everything was great. Facilitators were great and break out room use was perfect.

The Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (UCLA LOSH), in collaboration with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and the California Domestic Workers Coalition (CDWC) released a new study, Hidden Work, Hidden Pain: Injury Experiences of Domestic Workers in California. The report offers insight into the injuries experienced by the domestic workforce of California, including housekeepers, childcare providers and caregivers and highlights the need for domestic workers to be included under California’s occupational safety and health protections.

Key findings from the report include that fifty-one percent of all respondents said they had experienced pressure from an employer to work in dangerous conditions and an overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) described injuries resulting in chronic back, shoulder, arm, or leg pain. Additionally, more than half of respondents continued to work, despite their chronic pain, out of financial necessity and fear of losing their job.

California’s 2017 Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation represents the most important advancement for industrial safety in America since 1992, when federal OSHA issued the first PSM regulation in the wake of the Union Carbide chemical disaster in Bhopal India that killed as many as 15,000 people.

It is up to us to make sure the regulation is implemented and enforced  – for safer refineries and safer communities. To that end, LOSH collaborated with the United Steelworkers (USW) to create four short videos that highlight the history and key elements of the regulation. They are designed for outreach and education with workers, community members, labor and environmental justice organizations. View full video series

2017 LOSH Newsletter banner

Director’s Message

LOSH Director Linda DelpThis August, my husband passed away after five weeks in the hospital. Being with him at that time was both an incredibly difficult and a beautiful experience. It’s been difficult, after 20 years, to lose a loved one. Difficult to see him hooked up to IVs, with a breathing tube, unable to walk around.

It was also beautiful—to be by his side, to watch him rally, to see him so determined to go home. And it was beautiful to help make that possible, beautiful to be with him at the end, and beautiful to say good-bye.

And I am forever grateful. I’m grateful for health care that covered hospital and hospice care. Grateful for family medical leave that made it possible for me to be with him. For bereavement leave that allowed me to take some time before returning to work. I am grateful for the labor movement and for the activists who struggled for the rights that I benefited from during this difficult time, and for the support of friends, family, colleagues and coworkers.

This profound experience leads me to reflect on those who must also confront loss—without the benefits I have the privilege of having. I think about all the people whose loved ones die on the job, with no chance for family and friends to say good-bye. I think about those whose families are torn apart when a loved one is deported. And I think about those who lack health insurance and sick leave. Just as we never forget the loss of our own loved ones, we must never forget the loss of other families and friends who lose loved ones to death on the job, deaths that could have been prevented. We draw our inspiration from the growing network of solidarity—from those who stand together to confront dangerous jobs that take workers’ lives, to confront deportations of coworkers who are also fathers, mothers, siblings.

As 2017 draws to a close, I reflect on how deeply connected the personal and the political are. How policies enacted in Sacramento and Washington DC are not separate from our personal lives, and from our day-to day life experiences. Attacks against unions, workers’ ability to organize, immigrants, our health and safety, our access to health care—they affect so many, so deeply.

Looking ahead to 2018, LOSH will celebrate 40 years of outreach, education, community research, and worker advocacy. We invite you to join us as we celebrate the gains we have made—and as we renew our efforts to prevent work injuries and illness, and to promote safe and healthy jobs for every worker.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please hold October 11, 2018 for a celebration of LOSH’s legacy. I look forward to celebrating with you.

In Solidarity,

Linda Delp

LOSH And Partners Prepare To Provide Health and Safety Training In Wake of Devastating California Wildfires

This Santa Rosa, California, neighborhood was destroyed by a wildfire on October 10, 2017. Photo: Nick Giblin/DroneBase/AP - reprinted under Fair Use.

This Santa Rosa, California, neighborhood was destroyed by a wildfire on October 10, 2017. Photo: Nick Giblin/DroneBase/AP – reprinted under Fair Use.

Californians know all too well that we have experienced an unusually active wildfire season this year.

As this newsletter was being put together, the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties was in its second week and became the fourth largest in State history.

In October, Santa Rosa and other communities in Sonoma County were also devastated by fires, with the Tubbs Fire taking top place as the most destructive in California history, with more than 5,300 structures burned.

Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their homes and property in these fires and who face long periods of recovery ahead. Our thoughts also turn to the workers who mobilize during these incidents—the firefighters and emergency responders who battle the flames and help evacuate threatened neighborhoods, the healthcare workers who treat injured residents and those impacted by smoke and ash.

Operating engineers and hazmat workers are often the first to return to burn areas to clear out large debris and remove potentially hazardous materials. These workers, and the construction crews and day laborers that will slowly cleanup and rebuild these communities all face health risks if they are not protected through training and educational resources.

LOSH is committed to ensuring that any workers involved in wildfire response and recovery activities in California have access to information and resources to help them perform their work safely.

We are collaborating with our partner in the Bay Area, the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), state government representatives, and other partners in Northern California to support training in Spanish and English for cleanup workers in the Santa Rosa area. And we have started conversations to explore similar training and support activities for workers in Southern California in the coming months.

Stay tuned to our website, social media, and newsletter for further updates about our activities related to the California wildfires. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive (and growing) list of resources related to wildfire health and safety issues for workers.

LOSH Trains More Than 450 Healthcare Workers on Infectious Disease Hazards

At high risk for infectious disease exposure, workers receive valuable training from LOSH
ATD Training

Healthcare workers at a training earlier in the year.

Healthcare workers are at especially high risk for contracting infectious diseases on the job, a result of contact with sick patients or contaminated medical waste. There has been growing concern in recent years to diseases caused by viruses and bacteria that travel through the air or on contaminated surfaces—airborne and droplet diseases ranging from the common cold and seasonal flu to more serious agents such as measles, tuberculosis, and meningitis.

California is the only state in the country with an occupational health standard designed to protect workers from these “aerosol transmissible disease” (ATD) risks. Cal/OSHA’s ATD standard came about in 2009, the result of advocacy efforts by local labor unions and healthcare worker advocates. The resulting standard establishes a legally enforceable framework for requiring employers in healthcare and other settings to plan, control, and respond to potential exposures.

But eight years after the creation of the standard, a need still exists for user-friendly training and materials for workers and employers to follow.

Over the past year, LOSH has collaborated with the California Department of Public Health, SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, Kaiser Permanente Office of Labor Management Partnership, and the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley to develop new ATD curricula and provide training for nurses, environmental service workers, union stewards, and other healthcare worker-leaders across the state. We have trained 461 healthcare workers to date, with more courses planned in the coming months. The project is generously supported by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Training Program.

Could your workplace use ATD training? We would be happy to work with you to set one up. Contact Kevin Riley at LOSH for more information.

Our Work, Our Power!

LOSH and Partners Support Young Workers Across the Region

Young workers are an important part of local economies and often have to face precarious working conditions. According to a recent report by the UCLA Labor Center, the challenges they face “[take] various forms, such as wage theft, harassment, the withholding of benefits, and career immobility.” Additionally, “every year nearly 30 teens under 18 die from work injuries in the United States. Another 27,000 get hurt badly enough that they go to a hospital emergency room.”

For the past few years, LOSH has worked with young workers via the annual Young Worker Leadership Academy (YWLA), which introduces participants to service strategies (policy, education, media), and provides a forum for youth to plan service learning projects for their schools and communities to promote positive, safe employment for youth.

Since May 2016, LOSH has mentored a group of high school students from the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy (MSTMA) at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. The MSTMA group developed a research project on the struggles young workers face in East and South Los Angeles and have presented their findings at various conferences including the 6th annual youth-led Eastside Stories Conference in Boyle Heights, where they co-facilitated a young worker rights workshop with LOSH staff.

Additionally, on September 23rd, 2017, LOSH helped organize the young worker labor rights summit, “Our Work, Our Power!” in partnership with the Southern California Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH), the UCLA Labor Center, and Children over Politics. Over 25 youth from Los Angeles and the Inland Empire came to learn about the foundations of organizing, hear from labor and community organizations about young workers’ rights, and share strategies on how to build youth power across the greater LA metropolitan area.

LOSH will be partnering with the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) for YWLA 2018 in early February. Six teams will be participating, including four teams from Southern California.

Internship Program Trains Tomorrow’s Health and Safety Leaders

This summer, LOSH hosted four student interns as part of the national Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP). One team of students worked with the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union Local 770 to investigate injuries and job hazards among workers at the El Super grocery store chain in Southern California. A second team worked with the National Domestic Worker Alliance and the California Domestic Worker Coalition to interview residential housekeepers, nannies, and in-home caregivers about their injury experiences and eligibility for workers’ compensation.

OHIP is a national program that pairs student interns with unions or worker organizations to investigate job-related safety and health conditions through direct interactions with workers and advocates. Since 2004, almost 300 students have participated in the program, and many alumni are now active in various occupational health and safety professions.

The Summer 2018 OHIP project is coming up soon! We’re always looking for leads for potential work placement sites for interns. If you know of an organization that might be a good match, email Sarah Jacobs, National OHIP Coordinator.

LOSH Joins More Than 1,000 Community Health Promoters at Annual Conference

LOSH staff member Flor Vasquez (far right) shares health and safety information with conference-goers at the Visión y Compromiso event.

Last October, UCLA-LOSH represented at the 15th Annual Visión Y Compromiso Conference for Promoters, Community Health Workers themed “Resiliency: Our Strength in Times of Change” in Ontario, CA. More than 1,000 health promoters from around the United States gathered to network and engage in the professional development workshops at the event.

LOSH staff and the Promotoras led a two-hour workshop titled “Human Beings and Their Environment: Ergonomics and the Health Promoter.” The workshop highlighted the impact of poorly organized work spaces and processes and examined the strategies that promotoras can incorporate to avert health issues due to such work spaces.

For the seventh consecutive year, UCLA-LOSH staffed a resource table that has evolved to become a go-to station for one-on-one support aimed at identifying job hazards and sharing legal and technical resources. More than 400 Promotoras were eager to play our tabletop game called Worker Safety and Health Roulette, a game where they answer questions and win health educational prizes. Models of body joints and fact sheets were also used to share information about the prevention of workplace injury and illness caused by workplace violence and ergonomic hazards. These two topics were developed for Promotoras with the help of LOSH’s Promotoras Committee for Workplace Safety and Health.

The UCLA-LOSH Promotoras Committee was created to support members’ growth as community educators and leaders who can effectively advocate for themselves and others, and advance a balanced relationship between work and health. Promotoras are self-identified community caretakers who join educational and healthcare institutions as mediators, translators, interviewers and facilitators. They derive their expertise from participating in diverse educational programs, public health campaigns and academic research, and from direct membership in the communities where they live and work.

LOSH Provides Safety Training for Community Members Involved in Lead Cleanup

LOSH trains community residents to do lead remediation in their neighborhood. For more than 30 years, the Exide lead battery recycling facility operated in Vernon, California, released lead and other toxics into the surrounding communities. The contamination affected more than 100,000 people. Today, a State-led effort to clean up those properties is providing job opportunities for residents of the impacted communities.

Over the past year, LOSH has partnered with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) to train residents in Southeast Los Angeles for jobs testing local properties for lead and cleaning up contaminated soil—all while protecting their own health and that of other residents.

The first phase of the project began in fall 2016, when 30 residents were trained to perform lead soil sampling at an estimated 10,000 homes, schools, parks, and other properties in the communities of Vernon, Huntington Park, Maywood, Bell, Commerce, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. The second phase of the project, which is currently getting off the ground, aims to remediate an estimated 2,500 of the most impacted properties.

LOSH has played an important role to ensure that the residents being trained have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely. Students received week-long training in hazardous waste operations, as well as awareness-level courses on lead, asbestos, mold, confined space and heat illness prevention. (Students also receive certified lead training through NATEC, Inc.)

LOSH’s role under this workforce development effort is supported in part through a grant from the NIEHS Environmental Careers Worker Training Program.

News From The Institute For Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE)

Dream Summer FellowshipDream Summer 2018
The application for the 2018 Dream Summer Fellowship is now open! Apply today – deadline is February 15, 2018.

City council’s vote to legalize of street vending met with mixed feelingsDaily Bruin, November 21, 2017

Transborder conference discusses minimum wage implicationsDaily Bruin, November 14, 2017

News From The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH)

Could the worst gas leak in U.S. history be causing health problems?

The UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (UCLA-LOSH) is a sub-unit of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE). Partner units include the UCLA Labor Center and the Human Resources Round Table at UCLA. UCLA-LOSH is also affiliated with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.