Category Archives: 2023 USA

USA: 2023 Workers Memorial Day: Every worker is more than a number

A brilliant round-up of  28 April activities in the United States by  Jordan Barab from Confined Space.

Workers Memorial Day

Workers Memorial Day, as you’re all aware, is a day to mourn for those killed in the workplace and fight for the living. Events were held all over the country this year.  Below is a list of Workers Memorial Day articles. I’m sure I’ve missed many, so feel free to add them to the comment section below.

I especially want to encourage you to watch the US Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony here.  From the very moving words of OSHA’s new Family Liaison Tonya Ford at the beginning, to OSHA and MSHA directors, Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, and Wanda Engracia who lost her husband, to the wreath laying that concluded the ceremony.

But if you can’t watch the whole thing, at least watch the ten-minute video below that was presented during the program, of families describing the children and spouses and parents they’ve lost. But really, watch the whole thing. But bring some tissues. I defy you to watch this video — or Tonya Ford’s introduction starting at minute 3:00 —  without crying. None of the hundreds in the audience was successful.

But really, try to watch the whole thing. It’s a great use of an hour of your day.  You won’t regret it.

As Tonya said, “every worker is more than a number, every workers behind each incident is so more more than a statistic.

Workers Memorial Day 2023 Articles

Building Safer Workplaces – Daily Kos

Thousands of people died on the job in 2021. These were the deadliest industries

To Observe Workers Memorial Day, AFGE Raises Awareness on Workplace Violence

Saunders: Workers’ Memorial Day ‘is an important reminder of why we organize

Shuler on Deaths On The Job: ‘This report should not have to exist’

25 Things You Need to Know from the 2023 Death on the Job Report

A Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day, 2023 – The White House

2023 Workers Memorial Day: Organize for Safe Jobs

Workers’ Memorial Day shines light on workplace fatalities | Oxfam – Politics of Poverty

Workers’ Memorial Day: Ceremony honors lives lost due to workplace conditions


We’re still fighting to keep Alaska workers safe – Anchorage Daily News


Honor the fallen


Memorial honors 191 Caltrans employees killed on the job

California marks Workers‘ Memorial Day, honoring those that were injured or killed

Honor our fallen workers by doing your part to protect others

California holds memorial for Caltrans workers that died while working on roadways

California marks Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring those that were injured or died on the job

Governor Newsom Proclaims Workers’ Memorial Day 2023


City councilman declares today as Workers Memorial Day

Workers Memorial Day


Macon County ceremony honors workers who died on the job 


Workers deserve better protection from injuries and sickness on the job

Unions Remember Those Killed on The Job with Workers’ Memorial Day

Central Illinois honors National Worker’s Memorial Day

Aspiring veterinarian among those honored by workers’ memorial

‘Champion of Animals’ honored at Worker’s Memorial

Death in Springfield a reminder of continued need to improve workplace safety

IBEW #197 member Matt Strupp talks safety

Workers Memorial Day Recognized at Local Memorial on North Hazel Street


Workers who died on the job remembered today

Workers’ Memorial Day honored with reading of 50 deceased Iowa workers’ names

Workers Memorial Day in Waterloo honors 50 who lost lives on job


Workers’ Memorial Day: Ceremony honors lives lost due to workplace conditions


Maine Dept. of Labor Commemorates Workers Memorial Day

Local 14 retirees from Jay mill honored at Workers’ Memorial Day dinner


In Mass., 51 workers died on the job last year


Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living: Worker Memorial Day 2023 – EIN News


MIOSHA and Michigan Construction Companies Raise Awareness of Fall Hazards in Construction

Workers Memorial Day – Gladwin County Record & Beaverton Clarion

Remembering fallen workers | News, Sports, Jobs – The Mining Journal

Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony set for Friday

Macomb County board recognizes workers who have lost their lives


MnDOT Remembers Workers Who Have Died on the Job

Fallen MnDOT workers honored

 Workers Memorial Day a reminder that more can be done to protect those on the job

30th Annual Workers’ Memorial Day At Duluth Labor Temple


Karena Lorek: Today a day to remember those whose lost lives at work


Honor our fallen workers by doing your part to protect others

New Jersey

Middlesex County remembers fallen workers at annual Workers Memorial Day event

New York

PEF commemorates Workers Memorial Day – Public Employees Federation

Memorial held for Thruway workers killed on the job

Workers Memorial Day honored in Rochester

Workers Memorial Day remembers those who died on the job, pushes for end to unsafe working conditions

Commentary: These common-sense measures will keep workers safer

North Carolina

‘He never came back home’: NC families push for more regulations after losing loved ones on the job

North Carolina honors people who died on the job in 2021

Workers’ Memorial Day Statement – North Carolina Department of Labor

North Dakota

Honor fallen workers by doing your part for safety

Fargo and Grand Forks labor leaders plan to honor workers on Workers Memorial


Local union honors Workers’ Memorial Day, brothers killed in 2022 refinery fire – WTOL

Lake County commissioners, OHSA officials recognize ‘Workers Memorial Day’

Organized labor members to gather for Workers’ Memorial Day


Workers’ Memorial Day honors Oklahomans killed while on the job – KOCO

Honor Oklahoma’s 19 fallen workers in 2022 by doing your part to protect others: Commentary


Fallen workers remembered

Ceremony to Honor Oregon Workers Who Died on the Job in 2022

Workers Memorial Day honors workers who died on the job


25 people died in workplace incidents within the last year in South Central Pa.

Centre County elected officials, union leaders call for stronger worker protections in PA

PennDOT holds memorial for workers who died on the job

How safe is your workplace? Workers Memorial Day highlights on-the-job risks

You’re safer as a trout in Pennsylvania than you are as a worker’: a plea for more workplace safety

Ceremony honors Lehigh Valley workers killed on the job

Puerto Rico

Workers’ Memorial Day and Occupational Health and Safety Programs to Protect Puerto Rico Workers 


Commentary: Better, safer workplaces are worth fighting for


Opinion: Workers Memorial Day is a call for safety


VDOL honors National Workers Memorial Day today

West Virginia

Remember workplace safety on Workers Memorial Day | Opinion


Today, we honor workers who died on the job | AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)

15 Hanford chemical exposure deaths added to WA state worker death toll after law change

129 lives honored for Worker Memorial Day


Local workers, state leaders honor Workers’ Memorial Day

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Workers Memorial Day is April 28

Wisconsin AFL-CIO report: 105 state workers died in 2021

Workers’ Memorial Day honors those who died on the job

AFL-CIO: 105 Wisconsin workers died on the job in 2021


On Workers’ Memorial Day, Workforce Services remembers lives lost on the job

It’s Workers’ Memorial day. Let’s ‘fight like hell for the living’

Wyoming is the deadliest state in the nation for workers, again

USA: NYCOSH raises big issues on #iwmd23, in front of an ‘organise’ banner #iwmd23

NYCOSH raises big issues on #iwmd23, in front of an ‘organise’ banner.


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A post shared by NYCOSH (@nycoshofficial)

USA: On 28 April NIOSH says ‘learn from the past, prepare for the future’ – #iwmd23


Worker Memorial Day Poster

Workers’ Memorial Day, April 281, was established to recognize workers who died or suffered from exposures to hazards at work. It also encourages us to think of ways in which we all can help to achieve the goal of safer and healthier workplaces.

In 2021, work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,190 U.S. workers, an 8.9% increase from 2020. This number represents a rate of 3.6 fatal injuries per 100 full time equivalent workers2. Although deaths resulting from work-related injuries are captured by surveillance systems, most deaths resulting from work-related illness are not. In 2007, an estimated 53,445 people died from work-related illness3. In 2021, employers reported approximately 2.6 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses to private industry workers via the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses 4. An estimate of the annual burden of chronic occupational illness in the U.S. is between 460,534 and 709,792 additional cases per year 5.

Occupational injuries and illnesses have broad social and economic impacts on workers and their families, on employers, and on society as a whole. There are several ways to estimate those consequences, such as methods that focus on medical costs, productivity losses, health-related quality of life losses, or risk-money tradeoffs that consider pain and suffering. Based on methods that focus on medical costs and productivity losses, the societal cost of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses was estimated at $250 billion in 20073. Methods that include consideration of pain and suffering would result in a higher estimated societal cost6.

There are multiple sources of statistics for work-related injuries and illnesses in the United States. The NIOSH webpage, Worker Health Charts, allows for the creation of custom charts from multiple data sources. Users can visualize rates, distribution, and trends in workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths, using data not easily available elsewhere.

NIOSH is working to better describe the burden of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses suffered by workers; learn more about “Burden, Need and Impact” the NIOSH framework for identifying research priorities.

While significant progress has occurred since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, much more remains to be made. Even as we continue efforts to eliminate the legacy hazards of the 20th Century, we are also called to address the emerging challenges of the 21st Century economy.


  1. Workers Memorial Day was established in 1970 by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
  2. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2021.
  3. Leigh JP. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States. Milbank Q 2011;89:728–72
  4. Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, 2021.
  5. Groenewold, M, Brown, L, Smith, E, Sweeney, MH, Pana‐Cryan, R, Schnorr, T. Burden of occupational morbidity from selected causes in the United States overall and by NORA industry sector, 2012: A conservative estimate. Am J Ind Med. 2019; 62: 1117– 1134. icon
  6. Haddix AC, Teutsch SM, Corso PS, eds. Prevention effectiveness: a guide to decision analysis and economic evaluation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press;2003:74.

USA: A Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day, 2023 | The White House – #iwmd23

Nearly every law protecting workers’ rights passed because unions fought for it.  That includes the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which took effect 51 years ago today, laying the groundwork for foundational health, safety, and whistleblower protections that continue to protect workers nationwide.

A Proclamation on Workers Memorial Day, 2023

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A record 160 million Americans get up and go to work every day to provide for their families, build their communities, and earn a piece of the American Dream.  But too many are exposed to unsafe working conditions, injured, or even killed in preventable accidents on the job.  And millions of firefighters, police officers, and other first responders put their lives on the line as a matter of course to keep the rest of us safe.  We need to have their backs.  On Workers Memorial Day, we honor every American worker who has sacrificed their own life or well-being; we stand with the unions that fight for them every day; and we recommit to protecting the fundamental right to a safe and healthy workplace.

I ran for office to restore the backbone of America — the middle class — and I am proud to be the most pro-labor President in history.  The middle class built this country, and union workers built the middle class.  Nearly every law protecting workers’ rights passed because unions fought for it.  That includes the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which took effect 51 years ago today, laying the groundwork for foundational health, safety, and whistleblower protections that continue to protect workers nationwide.

My Administration has built on that legacy from the start, securing $200 million in American Rescue Plan funding to help keep workers safe and guarantee paid sick leave during the COVID‑19 pandemic.  We protected pensions for millions of workers and retirees so that hardworking Americans can enjoy the healthy and stable retirement they worked their whole lives to secure.  The historic infrastructure, manufacturing, and clean energy laws that I signed as part of our Investing in America agenda are spurring billions of dollars in private investments and helping to create millions of good-paying jobs while requiring strong labor practices like prevailing wages, expanding Registered Apprenticeships, and protecting benefits for coal miners with black lung disease.  Throughout, we have stood against union busting and supported striking workers, who fight for better pay and safer conditions.  We have cracked down on wage theft and worker misclassification so employers cannot avoid paying fair wages or full benefits.  We are making it easier for workers to report abuses and unsafe working conditions, even if they are undocumented — improving safety, boosting pay, and raising standards for everyone.

At the same time, my Administration has strengthened workplace safety enforcement and training, hiring hundreds of new workplace inspectors and increasing site visits by 30 percent.  We launched a program to inspect workplaces for extreme heat, which can harm construction, farm, factory, warehouse, delivery, and other workers.  We have invested more than $100 million in training farm workers to avoid injuries.  And we have fought for first responders by cracking down on toxic PFAS — the so-called “forever chemicals” that have been used for years to produce firefighting equipment and fire suppression agents, making firefighters sick — and funding research into PFAS alternatives.  I also signed bills qualifying more than 10,000 Federal firefighters for critical workers’ compensation and extending tax-free retirement benefits to firefighters permanently disabled on the job and to families of late firefighters who faced trauma.  My latest Budget would invest $430 million more to help Federal agencies promote safe worksites, protect benefits, increase penalties for labor violations, and end child labor for good.  Our Administration has worked across the board to expand access to health care through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, saving millions of families $800 a year each on premiums.  Today, more Americans have health insurance than ever before in our history.

We have more to do.  For starters, the United States is still one of the only countries in the world that does not guarantee paid sick leave, forcing too many workers to have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a sick or injured loved one or for themselves.  The Congress needs to pass sick days for all and a national paid leave program right away to change that.

A safe and healthy workplace is fundamental.  In the United States of America, no one should have to risk their lives just to make a living.  Today, we honor those workers who put it all on the line, and we keep their families in our hearts.  We celebrate the whistleblowers and union organizers whose courage and persistence has saved countless lives, and we join them in standing up for all American workers, who are the best in the world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2023, as Workers Memorial Day.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and education programs and ceremonies in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

US Department of Labor to honor workers whose jobs claimed their lives

US Department of Labor to honor workers whose jobs claimed their lives, recommit to protecting workers as nation marks Workers Memorial Day

OSHA, MSHA administrators, AFL-CIO president to join national ceremony in Washington

WASHINGTON – On April 28, 1970, the nation first observed Workers Memorial Day at a time when an estimated 38 people died on the job in the U.S. each day. More than a half century later, this annual tribute endures as do the determined efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration to help protect the lives of our nation’s workers.

Today, work-related injuries claim the lives of approximately 14 people each day in the U.S., that’s one life lost every 101 minutes. There were 5,190 such deaths in 2021. Workers Memorial Day pays tribute to these people, and all the fallen workers before them, and the survivors who remain to grieve and carry on.

In 2023, families, friends, coworkers, and others will gather on Friday, April 28 at events across the nation to honor people who died at work.

“On Workers Memorial Day, as we remember the people whose jobs claimed their lives, we must recognize that behind these numbers, there are people who mourn each loss. For them, these statistics are loved ones: they’re parents, children, siblings, relatives, friends, or co-workers,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “On this day of remembrance, we should reflect on what might have prevented their loss and recommit ourselves to doing all we can — and all that can be done — to safeguard workers and to fulfill our moral obligation and duty as a nation to protect America’s workers.”

Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker and Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Christopher Williamson will host a national Workers Memorial Day ceremony online broadcast from the department’s Washington headquarters on April 27 at 1 p.m. EDT. They will be joined by AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities Vice President Wanda Engracia, whose husband, Pablo Morillo was one of three workers killed in a 2005 industrial explosion in New Jersey.

“On Workers Memorial Day, we come together to remember those workers we have lost, including those who suffered toxic exposures at work that led to fatal illnesses which were entirely preventable,” Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “Repeated and prolonged exposures to unsafe levels of coal dust, silica and diesel exhaust can slowly strip a miner of their livelihood and dignity, and eventually their life. We must honor their loss by doing all we can to protect the health and safety of our nation’s miners.”

Throughout the U.S., OSHA and MSHA representatives will take part in local Workers Memorial Day events. They will join families, workers, labor unions, advocates, and others to remember the lives lost and raise awareness of workplace safety to help prevent future tragedies. Find a local Workers Memorial Day event.

View the online Workers Memorial Day event from Washington on April 27.

USA: Safety is a fundamental right


The 2023 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect marks the 32nd year the US national union center AFL-CIO has produced a report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s workers. The publication is a key resource for US union representatives on 28 April, International Workers’ Memorial Day. This year US unions are highlighting the lifesaving role of organizing for safe work, stressing this is now a fundamental right. It notes racial and other social inequalities in occupational safety and health are a major problem.

AFL-CIO says the US Occupational Safety and Health Act, “promising every worker the right to a safe job, has been in effect for more than 50 years, and more than 668,000 workers now can say their lives have been saved since the passage of the OSH Act.

“Over the last 50 years, there has been significant progress toward improving working conditions and protecting workers from job injuries, illnesses and deaths. Federal job safety agencies have issued many important regulations on safety hazards and health hazards like silica and coal dust, strengthened enforcement and expanded worker rights. These initiatives have undoubtedly made workplaces safer and saved lives. But much more progress is needed.”

See the Full Report

USA: Únete a nosotros ESTE MIÉRCOLES para el lanzamiento de la Docena Sucia de 2023

Este verano, habrá miles de trabajadores que no llegarán a la playa. Que no estarán en ninguna barbacoa. Que no verán una hermosa puesta de sol, porque la puesta de sol de sus vidas llegó demasiado pronto.

Millones más, aún con nosotros, encontrarán sus vidas disminuidas, sus ingresos más bajos y sus gastos más altos debido a enfermedades y lesiones prevenibles en el lugar de trabajo.

Cada año honramos a todos estos trabajadores y sus familias durante la Semana Conmemorativa de Trabajadores Fallecidos, que se lleva a cabo este año del 23 al 30 de abril.

¿Puedes unirte a COSH Nacional ESTE miércoles 26 de abril a las 2pm Este / 1pm Centro / 12pm Montaña / 11am Pacifico, en Zoom? Celebraremos la Semana Conmemorativa de Trabajadores Fallecidos con nuestro anuncio de los empleadores injustos de la Docena Sucia de este año. Hacemos hincapié en el comportamiento irresponsable que pone en riesgo a los trabajadores y las comunidades, y elevaremos las historias de los trabajadores y las comunidades que luchan para obtener mejores protecciones para reducir las muertes, lesiones y enfermedades.

Estamos invitando a los medios de comunicación, ¡y a ti! – a escuchar directamente de los trabajadores y las familias que pagan el precio cuando un empleador no es responsable. Nos encantaría tenerte con nosotros el 26 de abril.

La Semana Conmemorativa de Trabajadores Fallecidos es un momento para recordar a aquellos que hemos perdido, y para luchar con todas nuestras fuerzas por los vivos. Nos sentiríamos honrados si pudieras unirte a nosotros el 26 de abril, mientras trabajamos juntos para construir un movimiento poderoso para proteger a todos los trabajadores en todos los lugares de trabajo.

Gracias por todo lo que haces por la gente trabajadora.

Jessica E. Martínez y Marcy Goldstein-Gelb
Codirectoras Ejecutivas, COSH Nacional

USA: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY as we release the 2023 Dirty Dozen

This summer, there will be thousands of workers who won’t make it to the beach. Who won’t be at any barbeques. Who won’t see a beautiful sunset, because the sunset of their lives came far too soon.

Millions more, still with us, will find their lives diminished, their incomes lower and their expenses higher because of preventable workplace illnesses and injuries.

Each year we honor all of these workers and their families during Workers’ Memorial Week, which takes place this year from April 23rd through April 30th.

Can you join National COSH THIS Wednesday, April 26th at 2pm ET / 1pm CT / 12pm MT / 11am PT, on Zoom? We’ll observe Workers’ Memorial Week with our announcement of this year’s Dirty Dozen unsafe employers. We put a spotlight on irresponsible behavior that puts workers and communities at risk – and we’ll elevate the stories of workers and communities fighting back to win better protections to reduce fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

We’re inviting the news media – and you! – to hear directly from workers and families who pay the price when an employer cuts corners. We’d love to have you with us on April 26th.

Workers’ Memorial Week is a time to remember those we’ve lost – and to fight like hell for the living. We’d be honored if you can join us on April 26th, as we work together to build a powerful movement to protect all workers in all workplaces.

Thanks for all you do for working people,

Jessica E. Martinez and Marcy Goldstein-Gelb
Co-Executive Directors, National COSH

USA: Workers Memorial Day 2023 — A Time for Reflection and a Call to Action

The following excerpt is from Confined Space, the excellent US work safety and labor issues blog.  To read the complete story click here:

“Ahh…. as Friday approaches, many working people breathe a sigh of relief. The weekend is in sight, spring is in the air, and there may be some time for a little R&R, even in the crush of chores, kids, and other family matters that need attention. Of course, some will gear up for a full-on working weekend, ensuring that stores and gas stations remain open; mail and packages get delivered; buses, trains, and taxis keep operating; medical services are provided; and our loved ones in nursing homes are cared for.

This coming Friday, April 28, is more than just another Friday. It is Workers Memorial Day, the day when people around the world pause, recognize, remember, and honor those workers who have paid the ultimate price — suffering, dying, or becoming disabled as a result of injuries and illnesses related to their jobs.  And then redouble their efforts to make sure that workplaces are safe for the living…” More

USA: Silver Taube – Remembering lives lost in the workplace on Workers’ Memorial Day

On April 28, 1970, the OSH Act went into effect. Since that time, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. But despite the progress, too many workers are still at serious risk of injury, illness or death at work.

Workers’ Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for workers killed, disabled or injured on the job, is observed annually on April 28. This year, health and safety nonprofit Worksafe is hosting an event at 6 p.m. at the Laborers’ International Union Hall at 2195 Fortune Drive in San Jose with community groups and unions. The event will feature Cal/OSHA, federal OSHA, workers from various industries, union leaders, Filipino food, interactive displays and music.

The United States had a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries in 2021, meaning a worker died every 101 minutes from an occupational injury over the course of the year. The number of fatal work injuries increased 8.9% from 4,764 in 2020. The fatal injury rate was 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers in 2021—the highest rate since 2016—up from 3.4 per 100,000 workers in 2020. The pre-pandemic rate in 2019 was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. In 2020, the private construction industry accounted for 1,008 deaths, or 21.2% of total deaths. This was followed by transportation and warehousing with 805 deaths, or 16.9% of total deaths.

The health care and retail industry experienced a large number of injuries and illnesses. In 2020, there were 78,740 cases of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses that resulted in at least one day away from work among registered nurses in private industry. This was a nearly 291% increase, about four times as many cases compared with 2019 when there were 20,150 such cases. There were also 806,200 injury and illness cases in private health care and social assistance, a 40% increase from 2019. This was driven by a 958% increase in illness cases. Private retail trade experienced a 217% increase in illness cases.

For the fourth straight year in a row since 2016, Hispanic and Latino workplace deaths increased. Hispanic and Latino workers accounted for 22.5% of workplace deaths in 2020, up from 20.4% in 2019.

Workplace violence statistics are staggering. There were 392 workplace homicides in 2020. There were also 37,060 nonfatal injuries in the workplace resulting from an intentional injury by another person. The five occupational groups with the most workplace homicides in 2020 were sales, transportation and material moving, management, construction and extraction, and production.

Fast-food workers experience high levels of workplace violence. In a report by UC Berkeley, an analysis of 911 calls made from fast-food locations in major cities throughout California shows that many fast-food restaurants experience high rates of violent activity, including assault, sexual assault and theft. Across 643 locations in nine cities, the researchers identified 77,200 violent or threatening incidents over a four-year period.

One McDonald’s worker interviewed for the UC Berkeley report was jumped and beaten to the point of concussion by a man he had inadvertently bumped with a dustpan. Another was choked behind the register by a customer. A young KFC worker was shot with a BB gun outside the drive-thru and management offered little support. Other workers described being held up at gun point, battered through the drive-thru window, stalked by angry customers and verbally threatened. On Monday, there was a protest at a Jack in the Box on Story Road in San Jose because two workers were taken to the hospital after a customer brutally punched and kicked them.

The franchise model plays a significant role in the failure to prevent workplace violence at fast-food restaurants. Franchisees who may want to do the right thing are hampered by onerous economic and operational constraints imposed by the parent companies. Large global brands like McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King have no incentive to combat violence at franchises because they can evade legal responsibility under current laws. A bill recently introduced in the Assembly, AB 1228, would impose joint liability on the parent companies and require them to support franchisees to solve problems such as workplace violence and other workplace violations.

California’s workplace violence prevention regulations are currently applicable only to the health care industry. On Feb. 15, state Sen. Dave Cortese introduced SB 553, which would require Cal/OSHA to adopt regulations requiring any employer not subject to the health care regulations to adopt a workplace violence prevention plan as part of the employer’s injury and illness prevention plan.

Cal/OSHA is working on proposed general industry workplace violence prevention standards. In May 2022, Cal/OSHA issued a revised draft of a proposed workplace violence prevention regulation applicable to all industries that would require employers to implement measures to prevent and respond to workplace violence. The proposed regulation has not yet been adopted.

In the face of serious health and safety workplace issues, the Trump administration rolled back longstanding workplace safety protections—targeting job safety rules, safety examinations and injury reporting, and cutting agency budgets and staff.

In the fall of 2019, the federal OSHA began reducing the number of inspections, a policy still in place today. In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA was largely absent from workplaces. While the number of inspectors and inspections improved in fiscal year 2021, there is much more progress to be made.

OSHA must engage in more rigorous enforcement of health and safety laws, and California must enact a workplace violence standard. We should also pay tribute to the workers who were killed, disabled or injured on the job. We hope to see you on Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 at 6 p.m. at the Laborers’ Hall at 1295 Fortune Drive. The event is free, but please register online.

San José Spotlight columnist Ruth Silver Taube is supervising attorney of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, supervising attorney of the Santa Clara County’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Legal Advice Line and a member of Santa Clara County’s Fair Workplace Collaborative. Her columns appear every second Thursday of the month. Contact her at