WOSHTEP (California Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program)

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WHAT IS WOSHTEP?

The Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP) is an exciting statewide initiative aimed at reducing occupational injuries and illnesses and workers’ compensation costs in California workplaces. Its purpose is to promote injury and illness prevention through training and dissemination of materials by a statewide network of training providers. WOSHTEP activities target employers, workers, and the workers’ compensation community, with a common goal of promoting positive, healthy employment. They serve a variety of industries, and participants come from diverse occupations and work settings. Special emphasis is placed on occupational groups with special needs, such as those who do not speak English as their first language, workers with limited literacy, young workers, and other traditionally underserved industries or groups of workers. The program was created under Labor Code Section 6354.7 in 2002 as part of workers’ compensation reform. It is coordinated by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation
 and implemented by resource centers at the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley (LOHP), the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at UCLA (LOSH), and the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at UC Davis (WCAHS).

WOSH SPECIALIST TRAINING

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WOSHTEP trains California workers to be Worker Occupational Safety and Health (WOSH) Specialists who will become leaders in promoting health and safety in their workplaces. The role of a Specialist is to:

  • Promote employers’ workplace injury and illness prevention efforts and help develop an Injury and Illness Prevention Program at their workplace.
  • Serve as a health and safety resource for others, including coworkers, health and safety committees, unions, and employers.
  • Identify workplace hazards.
  • Investigate the underlying causes of injuries.
  • Promote solutions to health and safety problems.
  • Support the successful return-to-work of injured employees.

Workers interested in becoming a WOSH Specialist attend a free 24-hour course that prepares them to take a leadership role in their workplace. Key occupational safety and health concepts are taught through core modules addressing topics relevant in a variety of California workplaces. A series of supplemental modules cover specific topics and hazards. Workers then are ready to take on health and safety responsibilities, such as serving on a health and safety committee, acting as a designated safety representative, and training others. The free program is offered in English, Spanish, and Chinese. It is taught through a statewide network of trainers coordinated by the Northern California Resource Center
at the University of California, Berkeley, the Southern California Resource Center
at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley Resource Center
at the University of California, Davis.

SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES

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Worker Occupational Safety & Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP) and LOHP have developed easy-to-use training materials for small businesses that may not have a large enough staff to allow participation in the 24-hour WOSH Specialist training. To date, we have issued packets of training material for restaurants, janitorial services, and produced a general version for any small business. This training may be adapted for owners and managers in other targeted industries in the future.

YOUNG WORKER LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

Youth can also play a unique role in educating their peers and others in their communities. Toward this end, WOSHTEP has established the Young Worker Leadership Academy. At least one academy is held each year, involving teams of youth from throughout the state. The Young Worker Leadership Academy is funded by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation. The program teaches youth about workplace health and safety issues and their rights and responsibilities, and provides a forum for planning specific actions that can be taken in their own communities. These actions have included conducting health and safety activities in their schools and community centers, designing informational brochures and videos, and gaining new school policies to provide working teens with health and safety information through the work permit process. These projects help highlight California’s Safe Jobs for Youth Month in May, an activity of the California Partnership for Young Worker Health and Safety. For more information about the Young Worker Leadership Academy, contact Diane Bush at dbush@berkeley.edu.

WORKER RESOURCE CENTERS

WOSHTEP Resource Centers have been established in Northern California at the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at UC Berkeley, in Southern California at the Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program at UCLA, and in the Central Valley at the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at UC Davis. The Centers support WOSH Specialists and trainers, and also assist small business owners and managers, youth leaders, and anyone needing information about or assistance with workplace health and safety issues.

MULTILINGUAL HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDE

The Multilingual Health and Safety Resource Guide is one component of the Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP), overseen by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC). The goals of this state-wide worker training program are to raise awareness of workplace health and safety, to promote injury and illness prevention on the job, and to prepare California workers to take leadership roles in implementing effective workplace health and safety programs. As part of this effort, CHSWC has created a Web based list of training materials, including fact sheets, checklists, and other educational resources, that are available on-line and can be printed to distribute to workers participating in health and safety prevention activities and training programs. Because of the high numbers of non-English speaking immigrant workers in the state, a special emphasis has been placed on collecting materials in languages other than English. The Multilingual Health and Safety Resource Guide is designed to complement the standardized health and safety curriculum developed as a component of WOSHTEP. This curriculum includes six core modules that address topics that are relevant to workers in a variety of California workplaces, as well as a series of supplemental modules covering specific industries and hazards. The educational materials included in this guide can be used to support worker training activities in these areas.

WOSHTEP CONTACTS

Robin Dewey – Program Coordinator, WOSHTEP
(510) 642-2477
rdewey@berkeley.edu

Diane Bush – Program Coordinator, Young Worker & Small Business Programs
(510) 643-2424
dbush@berkeley.edu

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

Karen Andrews – LOHP Librarian
(510) 643-4335
andrews2@berkeley.edu