Introducing Safe Jobs Oregon

We are excited to tell you about Safe Jobs Oregon, a new Coalition that will focus on workers' occupational safety and health, both for traditional workers, as well as contingent, temporary, and other low-wage workers.  Workplace injuries are increasing each year in industries like construction and agriculture, fields with high percentages of immigrant workers.  Though workplace fatalities and serious injuries are decreasing overall, both are increasing among Latino workers, especially those that are foreign-born.  At the same time, employers are moving away from offering full-time employment, instead relying on independent contractors, temporary workers and day laborers.  These workers are often not covered by protections like workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and paid sick leave, yet they are often doing the most dangerous jobs.

We are comprised of representatives from organized labor, community groups, legal organizations, and others from around the state.

The field of worker safety is broad, so we have chosen to focus on a few issues to start off.  One is retaliation when a worker uses the workers' compensation system.  We frequently hear from workers who have been injured at work, and are fired or otherwise retaliated against for pursuing a remedy through the state’s workers’ compensation system.

Another issue is the danger of working at high temperatures without proper protections.  California and Washington have both instituted “heat stress standards” which lay out conditions employers must meet such as providing additional water, access to shade, and sufficient rest breaks when temperatures are high.  Oregon has decided not to enact similar rules, which puts workers at serious risk.  We will work to have Oregon adopt a heat stress standard.

Safe Jobs Oregon will work to ensure that all workers have the right to safe workplaces and adequate remedies if they are hurt at work.  Please contact Kate Suisman at kate@nwjp.org for more information or if you would like to get involved.