Labor Occupational Health Program University of California, Berkeley
S P R I N G 2 0 1 6
Greetings and Happy Spring!
Highlights in this issue include findings from a recent report LOHP developed among janitors and security officers and a compelling success story from a WOSH Specialist working in an unusual work setting. LOHP is also recruiting Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to participate in a national study on safety education. Finally, let's not forget that Workers' Memorial Day is around the corner – April 28 – and take time to reflect on the importance of promoting safe and healthful work environments for all workers.
Other new areas of work are highlighted in the articles below. Please stay in touch with us and consider ways we can partner together!
Sexual Harassment of Janitors and Security Officers Who Work Alone at Night
LOHP recently issued a report on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the property services industry. This report complements the UC Berkeley Labor Center's report on wage theft, "Race to the Bottom." Sexual harassment is a problem that is well known among janitors and security officers but largely invisible to outsiders. Between one-third and one-half of women are sexually harassed at some point in their working life, but this number is likely to be even higher in low-wage industries like the property services industry. It is also not unusual for workers in low-wage industries to be sexually harassed or assaulted by their own supervisor.
A key finding of the report is that the property services industry is structured in a way that isolates workers who are uniquely vulnerable to sexual harassment, and then creates conditions in which workers are afraid to step forward to report harassment. There are several factors that increase the risk of sexual harassment and assault among janitors and security guards:
Working in isolation at night allows supervisors to exert greater control over workers and reduces the likelihood that others will intervene or serve as witnesses.
Characteristics of the workers, such as being female, Latina, immigrant, and/or undocumented, can make it less likely that workers will report harassment due to the fear of retaliation or lack of familiarity with their rights or resources available to them.
Layers of contracting and subcontracting create less accountability on the part of employers.
A workplace culture – including poorly trained managers and supervisors, inadequate or non-existent sexual harassment policies, unfair investigations that humiliate workers, and retaliatory threats – serves to embolden harassers.
Finally, workers who do step forward to file harassment claims with the federal and state enforcement agencies often face limited protections and protracted investigations. Criminal charges are rare.
LOHP will soon release a new report proposing a set of recommendations to reduce the risks faced by janitors and security officers. A central recommendation is the need for employers to develop and enforce effective sexual harassment policies. Elements of a model sexual harassment policy are described in the report, along with other interventions to prevent and address sexual harassment.
Inmate-Workers Take Actions to Promote Workplace Health and Safety
LOHP has taught supervisors from California Prison Industries Authority to teach the state's Worker Occupational Safety and Health (WOSH) Specialist class to their inmate-workers. But can inmate-workers actually take a leadership role in the prison environment? Can they identify problems and advocate for solutions? It turns out they can. LOHP recently received a letter from a Soledad Prison inmate-worker who had attended the WOSH Specialist class describing what the class meant to him and how he was able to use the skills he gained. The inmate explained that the class, conducted using participatory training methods, gave him the first chance he'd ever had to work in small groups to solve problems. After the class was over, he inspected his wood shop and noticed that several people were using compressed air to clean up, causing a lot of airborne dust and the potential for eye injuries. He recommended that the group sweep debris with a broom instead and now all the inmate-workers in that shop come together each day at a specific time to clean together. “I noticed how when working together to achieve a common goal, it not only became a safer place to work but prompted camaraderie as well. The results of my inspection and problem-solving are so impressive that it left me filled with pride knowing that I am now an integral part of creating a safer workplace.”
The 24-hour WOSH Specialist course is part of the state's Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP), which is administered by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, within the Department of Industrial Relations. Three programs at UC – LOHP at UC Berkeley, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at UCLA, and the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at UC Davis – implement the program state-wide. Since its inception in 2004, WOSHTEP has trained roughly 14,000 workers through its 3-day Specialist classes and shorter awareness classes. In addition, WOSHTEP has provided trainings to 1,660 employers.
LOHP and West Virginia University Seeking Community College Construction Programs for National Study in Safety Education
Career Technical Education (CTE) programs at the post-secondary level play an essential role in preparing new and young workers to enter the growing construction field. Because construction is a high hazard industry and new and young workers are at greater risk of injury, it is critical that students in CTE construction programs are provided with effective health and safety education.
LOHP and the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University are conducting a new national study on health and safety education in CTE construction programs. “This study is the first of its kind to focus on health and safety education in construction in community and technical colleges. We are counting on the knowledge and insight of dedicated administrators and faculty in post-secondary CTE programs. They will provide critical information that will help develop strategies to protect students as they enter the highly rewarding but also highly hazardous construction industry,” says Diane Bush, MPH, co-principal investigator of the study at LOHP. Research partners at West Virginia University are conducting the surveys. Results will be used to develop guidelines and policy supports for CTE instructors and administrators.
The research is funded by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training through its National Construction Center cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It is endorsed by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the American Technical Education Association (ATEA), CPWR, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), and SkillsUSA.
Is there a limit as to how long someone can be out on temporary disability?
Generally speaking, workers' compensation temporary disability benefits stop when you return to work or when the doctor says you are well enough to return to work or says your injury has improved as much as it's going to. If you were injured on or after Jan 1, 2008, you are eligible to receive up to 104 weeks of disability payments within a five-year period. The five-year period is counted from the date of the injury.
Did you know that you can attend a free seminar on workers' compensation? These are put on monthly by the Information and Assistance Unit of the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) at local division offices.
Get your occupational health and safety questions answered by Karen Andrews, the LOHP Librarian.
May 3 IIPP for temporary staffing agencies
2199 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94720
May is Safe Jobs for Youth Month
The California Partnership for Young Worker Health and Safety, coordinated by LOHP, wants all teens to know their rights on the job. This year's Safe Jobs for Youth Month public awareness campaign will feature our poster and video contest winners as well as an exciting social media campaign. To get involved, contact Kelsie Scruggs at email@example.com.
I have a right to an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes if I am scheduled for at least a 5 hour shift and to a paid 10 minute rest break for every 4 hours of work. Learn more about meal and rest breaks.
April 28, 2016 is Workers' Memorial Day - Honor the dead and fight for the living!
The most recently released national data showed 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014, a 2% increase from 2013. Most of these deaths could have been prevented through effective enforcement of OSHA regulations and strong injury and illness prevention programs in the workplace. Workers' Memorial Day is a time to honor the dead and fight for the living by advocating for safer, healthier workplaces.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
4:30 to 6:30 PM
4:30 PM Meet at Lake Merritt and march to Downtown Oakland
5:30 PM Rally and Program at 1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
More information: worksafe.org
Workers' memorial events and activities range from rallies to candlelight vigils to public forums to reports on local fatalities and workplace safety issues. They are organized by unions, worker centers, local COSH groups, faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens. For more information on events around the country, visit: http://www.coshnetwork.org/WMW16
IIPP Course for Staffing Agencies and Employers That Use Temporary Workers
Why are temporary workers at an increased risk of work related injuries? Whose responsibility is it to monitor work restrictions? Does the host company or staffing agency enter the injury on the OSHA 300 log? What are your responsibilities under Cal/OSHA regulations?
LOHP and Cal/OSHA will address these questions and offer strategic solutions to these issues.
Come to this free half-day training where you will learn the requirements of Cal/OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) standard, particularly as it relates to dual employer situations. A representative from Cal/OSHA Consultation Service will describe the expectations for staffing agencies and for host employers with regard to protecting temporary workers. Examples of best practices for meeting Cal/OSHA's requirements and preventing workplace injuries and illnesses in dual employer situations will be discussed.
This special training is being held specifically for HR, Risk Management and EHS Departments for Staffing Agencies and host companies in California.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
1:00 to 5:00 PM
1515 Clay Street, Room 11
Oakland, CA 94612
The Changing World of Work: How the Gig Economy Impacts Occupational Safety & Health
An exciting panel of speakers will provide an overview of how the changing world of work – the new contingent workforce, widening income inequality, and effects on the labor movement – are impacting occupational safety and health.
Specific California topics will be covered, including temporary and subcontracted workers in the state and the Cal/OSHA perspective about contingent workers.
A panel will discuss the impact of the changing workforce from the perspective of a staffing agency, a union, and a sharing economy business, along with a discussion of workers' compensation for contingent workers. Featured speakers are Lenny Mendoca, Director Emeritus of McKinsey & Company, and John Howard, Director of NIOSH.
Friday, May 6, 2016
9 AM to 4 PM
David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Fee: Faculty and Students- $15.00; State and Local Government Agencies and Non-Profits-$15.00; Others- $50.00