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Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ Silicosis Prevention Act Clears Labor Committee

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ (D-San Fernando Valley) bill, AB 3043, the Silicosis Prevention Act to protect countertop workers from contracting silicosis, passes the Assembly Labor Committee. AB 3043 requires the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to produce and maintain a public website of fabrication shops in California to track compliance with recently developed state standards. The State must evaluate whether or not industry regulation will effectively protect the health and safety of workers. Additionally, the bill creates statewide industry standards to prohibit the dry cutting of artificial stones, creates a licensure program for fabrication shops, and requires workers to undergo a training program.

Silicosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica. Artificial stone is hazardous to work with due to its high silica concentration and harmful polymer resins, dyes, and other binding materials to form a slab. Workers who cut, grind, polish, and drill artificial stone are at the highest risk of contracting silicosis due to the overexposure and high levels of silica used to make products like artificial stone countertops.

"My district, in the San Fernando Valley, is the hub of the countertop industry and is at the center of this global epidemic," stated Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. "A silicosis diagnosis is a death sentence. The emergency temporary standards issued by state regulators in December do not go far enough to protect workers. We cannot jeopardize the lives of workers to appease the demand for this product. AB 3043 requires additional layers of worker protections on top of state regulations through comprehensive worker training, industry licensing, stricter enforcement, and evaluation of the effectiveness of our state standards. AB 3043 requires an evaluation of an outright ban on artificial stones if regulations drafted by CalOSHA are ineffective at protecting works, and silicosis cases in the industry continue to occur.

"The State Building Trades is proud to partner with Assemblymember Luz Rivas on AB 3043, a critically important measure to protect workers from the devastating effects of silica exposure. California has always been a leader in job site safety standards; it's time to expand those standards to every level of the construction process, including stone fabrication. The urgent need for the multi-level approach taken by this bill to mitigate the risks faced by workers in fabrication facilities can be seen in real-time, as cases of silicosis and other silica-related health issues are on the rise in Southern California. A worker who receives a silicosis diagnosis is handed a death sentence simply for going to work; refusing to take steps to prevent this from happening, such as the licensing and specialized training required by AB 3043, is unacceptable," says Chris Hannan, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. "We applaud Chair Liz Ortega and the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee for recognizing AB 3043's value and its potential impact on the health and safety of an entire industry. We look forward to working with Assemblymember Rivas' office to continue moving this bill through the legislature to the Governor's desk."

The California Department of Public Health has identified approximately 95 countertop workers with silicosis. Between 2019 and 2022, 52 artificial stone workers were diagnosed with silicosis, 51 of whom were Latino immigrants. Twenty of the patients had advanced disease at diagnosis; ten have died; four workers received lung transplants, and five are still under evaluation. Their median age was 45, with an average work history of 15 years.

AB 3043 is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, supported by the American Lung Association, California Labor Federation, and Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association (WOEMA).

"I am proud of the sponsor and the support behind AB 3043. We firmly believe in protecting the health and safety of workers," said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas.

AB 3043 passed out of the Assembly Labor Committee and will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee next Tuesday.


Assemblywoman Luz Rivas proudly represents the 43rd Assembly District, which includes the City of Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sun Valley, Sylmar, North Hollywood, Valley Glen, and the City of San Fernando.