October 2021 California EHS News

By September 28, 2021 No Comments

California lawmakers approve bill to ban toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging and straws

The California State Legislature has approved Assembly Bill 1200, which would ban the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from paper, paperboard or plant-based food packaging, utensils and paper straws starting January 1, 2023.

The bill cleared the state Assembly floor with a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 60-0, days after the Senate voted to approve the legislation 36-0. The measure will be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom who is expected to sign it into law.

Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the bill also requires manufacturers to label cookware that contain toxic chemicals on product handles or coatings starting January 1, 2024. Manufacturers will also have to make public on their websites a list of those chemicals present in their pots, pans and other cookware beginning January 1, 2023.

Cookware companies will also be prohibited from making false marketing claims implying that products are PFAS-free.

New California law takes aim at warehouse companies’ work quotas

Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law prohibits warehouse companies from enforcing work quotas that prevent workers from going to the bathroom or doing their jobs safely, in line with health and safety laws. While state officials are in charge of enforcement, the law also gives workers the right to sue to overturn unsafe quotas and any discipline they receive for not meeting them. And the bill says that if a worker is punished within 90 days of making a complaint about a quota, it will be considered unlawful retaliation.

The law follows a series of investigations by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting of Amazon’s business model: production quotas that seriously injure warehouse workers.

The law focuses on transparency, requiring warehouse companies to provide employees with a written description of their work quotas. Employers also must give workers who object to quotas a copy of the data tracking their productivity. California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower will be in charge of enforcing the law. The commissioner will also determine whether an investigation is warranted for workplaces with injury rates at least 1.5 times higher than the industry average.

Business groups, such as the California Retailers Association, opposed the bill, saying it would increase costs for consumers and slow down warehouses.

California records its hottest summer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed what many people felt and saw: California – along with Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah – reported their hottest summer on record. Sixteen other states had one of their top-five warmest summers.

Nationwide, the heat during June, July and August tied the 1936 Dust Bowl summer as the hottest on record, with temperatures across the country averaging 2.6 degrees above average.

California bill protects farmworkers from wildfire smoke

Governor Newsom has signed AB 73, legislation helping to protect farmworkers from wildfire smoke by including agricultural workers in the definition of essential workers that can access the state’s personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile and specifying that wildfire smoke events are among the health emergencies that require the state to mobilize distribution of PPE. It also requires employers to provide in-language wildfire smoke training.

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