Domestic workers in California could be first in U.S. to get OSHA protections

California Domestic Workers May Become the First in the U.S. to Receive OSHA Protections


California is taking steps to extend OSHA safety standards to domestic workers such as housekeepers and nannies, making it the first state in the US to do so. Currently, both state safety agency Cal/OSHA and federal OSHA exempt domestic workers from the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. However, legislators in California have approved a bill, SB 686, which aims to include these workers in laws requiring health and safety protections. The bill will now go to Governor Gavin Newsom for approval, after he previously vetoed a similar bill in 2020. Proponents of the bill argue that privacy concerns have been addressed with an informal approach.

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Full Article: California Domestic Workers May Become the First in the U.S. to Receive OSHA Protections

California Moves Closer to Extending OSHA Protections to Domestic Workers

California is on the verge of becoming the first state in the U.S. to provide Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) protections to domestic workers, including housekeepers, nannies, and other household staff.

Exclusion of Domestic Workers from OSHA Safety Standards

Currently, both the state safety agency Cal/OSHA and the federal OSHA do not include domestic workers in their safety standards, leaving them without crucial workplace protections.

Legislators Push for Change

On September 14, 2023, California legislators voted in favor of bill SB 686, which aims to include domestic workers in the state’s health and safety protections. If passed, California would become the first state in the nation to implement such measures for household staff.

Governor’s Previous Veto

In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar bill. While acknowledging the need for workplace protections for domestic workers, Newsom believed that private households should not be regulated in the same way as businesses.

Interestingly, it was revealed that Newsom paid $288,000 in wages to household staff in 2019.

SB 686 Seeks to Remove Exclusion

SB 686 aims to remove the 50-year-old exclusion of domestic workers from Cal/OSHA coverage. If the bill passes, anyone employing household staff will be required to comply with state mandates on injury prevention, starting in 2025.

The Impact on Domestic Workers

A 2020 report by the UCLA Labor and Occupational Safety and Health program highlighted that 85% of domestic workers surveyed experienced musculoskeletal injuries. Many of these injuries could have been prevented with regulatory protections, such as the use of proper equipment.

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Addressing Concerns

When vetoing the 2020 proposal, Governor Newsom cited concerns over liability and privacy for homeowners and renters. However, discussions with domestic worker representatives led to the formation of an advisory committee that recommended ending the exclusion. This recommendation paved the way for the current proposal.

Wide Support for SB 686

Despite initial concerns, advocates of SB 686 claim that privacy issues have been addressed with an informal approach that involves warnings via phone and mail to employers. The bill has gained significant support and does not have any official opposition.

Sources: Los Angeles Times

Summary: California Domestic Workers May Become the First in the U.S. to Receive OSHA Protections

California is on the verge of becoming the first state in the US to extend workplace safety standards to domestic workers. A bill has been approved by legislators and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom. The proposed legislation would remove the 50-year-old exclusion of domestic workers from the state’s safety regulations. A report from the UCLA Labor and Occupational Safety and Health program found that 85% of domestic workers surveyed experienced musculoskeletal injuries. The bill has a long list of supporters and no official opposition.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Workers in California and OSHA Protections

1. What is OSHA?

OSHA, which stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a federal agency responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees in the United States.

2. Are domestic workers currently protected by OSHA in California?

No, currently domestic workers are not covered under OSHA protections in California. However, this might change as California lawmakers are considering a bill that could make domestic workers the first in the U.S. to receive OSHA protections.

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3. What are domestic workers?

Domestic workers refer to individuals who perform household tasks and services within private residences. This includes housekeepers, nannies, caregivers, cooks, gardeners, and other similar roles.

4. Why do domestic workers need OSHA protections?

Like workers in other industries, domestic workers also face potential health and safety risks while on the job. OSHA protections would ensure that they have the right to a safe workplace, including guidelines for handling hazardous materials, ergonomic concerns, and protection against discrimination or harassment.

5. What kind of protection would domestic workers get under this new proposal?

If the bill is passed, domestic workers in California would have the same health and safety protections as workers in other industries covered by OSHA. This would include training on occupational hazards, information on their rights, access to personal protective equipment, and the ability to file complaints without fear of retaliation.

6. How would OSHA protections benefit domestic workers?

OSHA protections would provide domestic workers with the necessary tools and resources to work safely, reducing the risk of workplace accidents, injuries, or illnesses. It would also empower them to advocate for their rights, leading to fairer working conditions and improved overall well-being.

7. What are some of the challenges faced by domestic workers when it comes to workplace safety?

Domestic workers often work in isolation, behind closed doors, making it difficult for them to seek help or report unsafe conditions. Many lack access to training or resources that could help them identify and mitigate risks. Additionally, the nature of their work exposes them to various physical and emotional challenges, such as heavy lifting, exposure to harmful chemicals, and long hours.

8. How can individuals support OSHA protections for domestic workers?

Supporters can contact their local lawmakers and express their support for the bill. They can also join advocacy groups or organizations fighting for domestic workers’ rights and raise awareness about the importance of OSHA protections for this vulnerable workforce.

9. What other states have implemented OSHA protections for domestic workers?

As of now, no state has implemented specific OSHA protections for domestic workers. If California succeeds in passing this bill, it could serve as a model for other states to follow suit and prioritize the safety and well-being of domestic workers nationwide.

10. What is the current status of the bill in California?

The bill is currently under consideration in the California legislature. While it has gained support from various advocacy groups and lawmakers, it still needs to go through the legislative process before becoming law. It is crucial to stay updated with the progress of the bill by following news sources or official legislative websites.

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