The California legislature seems to be pursuing goals of transforming the state into a safer and more equitable place for workers, especially those who may be at more risk of being marginalized or exploited. The indications of this improvement may not always be readily apparent, especially since the small details of the law rarely receive the fanfare given to political plans or controversial bills. Here are some material examples of the methods by which the Golden State protects its workers and attempts to prevent workplace injuries.
Most of the attitudes towards worker protection are evident in the law itself. The California Labor Code contains regulations requiring the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health to provide multilingual communications. This is an important point for any worker who does not understand English proficiently. The rule aims to remove many of the difficulties that might arise from misunderstanding advice, notices or educational material originating from the government.
Beyond the letter of the law lies the prescribed interpretation. Legislators occasionally issue revisions when laws and regulations might be improved or strengthened by defining ambiguous language. One example is the California Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 revision of regulations governing toxic exposure to environmental chemicals, pathogens or other harmful substances. The reviewers found that some of the wording in the original document created potential misunderstandings or loopholes. They created a more powerful and protective law when they decided to define the unclear terms more precisely.
Several state agencies besides the California EPA protect the concerns of workers. Further examination of their laws and regulations might reveal how they work together towards the goal of equitable and profitable working conditions for the state’s entire labor force.