How California Regulators Failed to Protect Outdoor Workers From Wildfire Smoke

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A farmworker fights the Thomas Fire on December 7, 2017 near Fillmore, California.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Farmworkers in California work outside even during wildfires that fill the air with toxic smoke. California law requires employers to provide mask and safety guidance during those periods of dangerous air. But, an investigation by KQED and The California Newsroom found that state officials rarely enforce those rules putting roughly 4 million outdoor workers at risk. Despite those failures, Douglas Parker, the former head of California Division of Occupational Health and Safety responsible for enforcing the regulations, was recently appointed by President Joe Biden to lead the nation’s worker health and safety efforts. We talk about the investigation’s findings and whether California regulators are falling short in protecting workers.

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Farida Jhabvala Romero, reporter with KQED and NPR's California Newsroom