Assemblymember Rivas Applauds State Board’s Decision to Promulgate COVID-19 Emergency Standards

Friday, September 18, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) lauded the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board for their announcement yesterday to create stronger rules for employers in protecting their employees against COVID-19 and preventing further spread of the virus.

“I applaud the OSHSB for their unanimous decision to begin strengthening protections for our essential workers, who put their health on the line every day during this pandemic,” Assemblymember Rivas said. “While this will impact every worker in California, those who have the highest risk of contracting the virus, such as immigrant, low-income or minority populations, will benefit greatly.”

Worksafe, an organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the basic right of all people to a safe and healthy workplace, submitted a petition to the OSHSB in May advocating for the agency to take emergency actions in order to tackle COVID-19 in our workplaces. Asm. Rivas spearheaded efforts to support that petition in the Legislature, resulting in a letter to Governor Newsom in August joined by seventeen other Assemblymembers and Senators urging his Administration “to take immediate action to expedite the adoption of an Emergency Standard to protect all workers from COVID-19 related hazards at work.”  

“Policymakers today heard the voice of vulnerable California workers demanding safety and accountability,” said Worksafe Executive Director Stephen Knight yesterday after the board’s announcement. “We have all seen the grim statistics and the disproportionate burden of disease that has been put on communities of color and working communities. This is another face of exploitation and disregard for workers’ humanity. We can and must do better. With the approval of this petition, California now has the opportunity to develop strong new protections to stem the tide of workplace-spread COVID-19.” 

“The action taken by the OSHSB is an important step in protecting our essential workers against this entirely preventable illness,” said Asm. Rivas, “but we have to do more to get this virus under control. My legislation, AB 2043, targets our most vulnerable population – our agricultural workers – who are contracting COVID-19 at staggering rates. In Monterey County, 93 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases are ag workers, even though they make up only 61 percent of the population. We must take a multifaceted approach to handling this pandemic, and I believe AB 2043 will complement the OSHSB’s recent decision in strengthening workplace safety requirements against COVID-19.”

AB 2043 is a part of the California Farmworkers COVID-19 Package, a first-in-the-nation bill package, which will protect the health, safety, and access to services of agricultural workers and prevent disruptions to the nation’s food supply.

For more information on the California COVID-19 Farmworker Relief Package, visit: https://a30.asmdc.org/farmworker-relief-package

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Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) represents California’s 30th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities and towns of Aromas, Big Sur, Chualar, Gilroy, Greenfield, Gonzales, Hollister, King City, Morgan Hill, Salinas, San Martin, San Juan Bautista, Soledad, Spreckels, and Watsonville.