On February 7, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) announced the creation of an advisory committee to develop occupational safety and health guidance for domestic workers and their employers.
The advisory committee was authorized by a state law, SB 321, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, signed September 2021 by Governor Gavin Newsom (D).
Cal/OSHA encouraged qualified domestic workers with experience inside or outside the home and employers of domestic workers to apply to become committee members. The deadline for submitting an application is February 18.
Criteria for advisory committee members include:
- Domestic workers who have worked as an attendant, a caregiver, a housecleaner, or a nanny in private homes for at least 5 years.
- Domestic workers who have worked as a day laborer at private homes for at least 5 years. “Day laborer” includes, but is not limited to, exterior maintenance workers, gardeners, and landscapers.
- Employers that have employed attendants, caregivers, housecleaners, or nannies in their private homes for at least 5 years.
- Employers that have employed a day laborer at their private homes for at least 5 years.
- Nonprofit organizations with a minimum of 5 years of experience advocating for day laborers and connecting them with private household employers.
- Nonprofit organizations with a minimum of 5 years of experience advocating for domestic work employees or employers.
The advisory committee must include, but is not limited to, two experts in the prevention of the work-related injuries and illnesses most commonly suffered by domestic workers.
The advisory committee’s tasks will include developing voluntary industry-specific occupational safety and health guidance and making recommendations for policies that Cal/OSHA or the state legislature might adopt to protect the health and safety of household domestic workers.
Voluntary guidance would serve to educate domestic workers and employers in identifying and evaluating workplace hazards in private homes to prevent or minimize workplace injuries and illnesses.
Any policy recommendations must consider the privacy of individuals who employ domestic workers in their private residences, especially regarding any possible future enforcement of health and safety standards, orders, and regulations, as well as the applicability of the existing civil monetary penalty structure for violations to household domestic service employers.
Other considerations for the advisory committee’s policy work would include:
- Identifying and evaluating common workplace hazards specific to household domestic work,
- The scope and applicability of existing regulations to the industry,
- The need to develop industry-specific requirements, and
- How to conduct training and outreach to employers and employees in the industry.
The committee also must prepare a report that will be distributed to appropriate policy committees of the legislature by January 1, 2023.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator María Durazo, D-Los Angeles, said “Domestic workers are essential workers” when Newsom signed the bill last year.
“They make it possible for hundreds of thousands of families to carry out other work, and during the pandemic they have been on the frontlines, in people’s homes, putting their health at risk. They deserve safe and healthy environments to work.”
Cal/OSHA is the division of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) charged with protecting California’s workers from health and safety hazards on the job.