“As Gov. Gavin Newsom attempts to rein in the state’s rising coronavirus cases, the agency responsible for keeping California workers safe spent the July 4 holiday visiting more than 1,000 businesses to ensure they were following safety guidelines.
Newsom hailed the multi-agency effort as a success. Worker rights’ advocates, however, called the action more of a publicity stunt that distracts from the truth: An agency once considered among the best of its kind nationwide has largely abandoned in-person inspections since the pandemic began, potentially endangering the lives of millions of workers across California.
“The administration appears to be concerned with optics, not substance,” said Jeff Ruch, who leads the Pacific branch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER. The group’s members include current and former public employees, including those at California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA. Cal/OSHA employees required to carry out the July 4 blitz have not been tested for COVID-19, Ruch said. “They could be making a bad situation worse,” he said.”