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Occupational Health Watch: April 2021

Workers Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect and Protect

On Workers Memorial Day on April 28, please join us in recognizing workers who were injured, became ill, or died because of hazards at work. On this day, we remember those we have lost and renew our commitment to keeping California workers safe.

In the first three months of 2021, there were more than 5,000 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks and over 51,000 outbreak-related cases reported to the California Department of Public Health, including in workplaces like healthcare facilities, grocery stores, and restaurants. Working-age (18-64 years old) Californians account for 76% of the state's COVID-19 cases and 27% of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. A recent University of California San Francisco study that has not yet been peer-reviewed examined California death certificate data. ParkedTrucksThe authors found excess mortality among food/agriculture workers (39% increase), transportation/logistics workers (28% increase), facilities (27%) and manufacturing workers (23% increase) during March to October 2020 and attributed this increase to COVID-19. Workers Memorial Day provides us with an important opportunity to reflect upon these deaths and continue to work together to prevent future deaths.

We also recognize workers who died from causes other than COVID-19. The most recent data show that 451 California workers died on the job in 2019. The industries with the highest rates of fatal work injuries were agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; transportation and utilities; and construction.

OHB remains committed to preventing workplace injuries and deaths through investigation and research, education, and partnerships with industry and community organizations.

This year many commemorative events will be held virtually. You can find more information on the AFL-CIO Workers Memorial Day website.

When most Californians sheltered in place, essential workers continued working to provide for food, healthcare, transportation, safety services, and infrastructure. We can't say it enough: Thank you, essential workers! 



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