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Work & Health Initiative

In December 2014, Governor Edmond G. Brown, Jr., appointed former Project Director Juliann Sum to serve as Chief of Cal/OSHA. The Work & Health Initiative is currently not active.

Juliann Sum, Chief
California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)


The Work & Health Initiative was established to improve the health and wellbeing of California workers and their families through the following activities:
  1. Conducting applied practical research into the causes, prevention, and management of work-related health problems

  2. Disseminating findings, policy recommendations, and educational messages into the community

  3. Assisting organizations in developing effective programs to improve worker health
Organizational Links

The Work & Health Initiative was sponsored by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health in northern California. COEH, which is based at the Berkeley, San Francisco, and Davis campuses of the University of California, conducts research, multi-disciplinary graduate-level training, professional continuing education, and community service, including training workshops, conferences, educational materials, clinical services, and assistance with specific problems. The Work & Health Initiative worked in close collaboration with the Labor Occupational Health Program, a community outreach program of COEH.


  1. Workers' Compensation in California: A Guidebook for Injured Workers (Fifth Edition), July 2014 PDF, and Compensación del Trabajador de California: Una Guía para los Trabajadores Lesionados (Quinta Edición Actualizada), Julio del 2014 PDF. This guidebook for injured workers, available in both English and Spanish, gives an overview of rights, responsibilities, and procedures in the California workers' compensation system. The guidebook was developed in collaboration with state agencies and workers' compensation stakeholders.

  2. Pocket Guide to Workers' Compensation: Public and Private Sectors (Second Edition), 2014 PDF. Published by California Public Employee Relations, another program within the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, this booklet gives an overview of California workers' compensation law and procedure, with citations to applicable laws, regulations, and precedent cases.

  3. Providing Medical Services to Low-Wage Workers with Job Injuries: Model Tools and Instructions for Community Health Centers, 2012 PDF. Produced by the Labor Occupational Health Program in collaboration with the Watsonville Law Center, this booklet supports community health centers, which serve as safety net providers, in creating financially sustainable programs to treat patients with work-related injuries and illnesses.

  4. If Your Employer Is Illegally Uninsured: How to Apply for Workers’ Compensation Benefits, 2011 PDF and Si su Empleador se Encuentra Ilegalmente Sin Seguro: Cómo Solicitar los Beneficios de Compensación del Trabajador, 2011 PDF. In California, if an employer is uninsured and does not provide workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee, the employee may apply for benefits from the state Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund. This booklet discusses 10 basic steps to apply for those benefits.

  5. For Workers’ Compensation Clients: Facts About Other Benefits in California, 2011 PDF. Written for injured workers seeking advice from legal aid offices, this factsheet discusses the interplay between workers’ compensation benefits and state disability insurance, state unemployment insurance, U.S. Social Security benefits, and Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits.

  6. Helping injured workers return to work: Practical guidance under workers’ compensation and disability rights laws in California, 2010 PDF. This handbook provides guidance for small employers. It describes how to establish and implement an effective return-to-work program, coordinate return-to-work with workers’ compensation benefits, and ultimately strengthen the work environment and overall health of the company or organization. For employees, it describes everyone’s roles and responsibilities and what can be expected in the process.

  7. How To Create a Workers' Compensation Carve-Out in California: Practical Advice for Unions and Employers, 2006 PDF. This booklet discusses important issues for unions and employers to consider in designing a carve-out as an alternative system for delivering benefits to injured workers and resolving problems and disputes. Topics include reasons to create a carve-out, eligibility requirements, identifying problems and goals, designing the carve-out to meet your goals, hiring the best people, and staying involved in the operation of the carve-out.

  8. "Legal Services Available to Injured Workers in California," February 2002 PDF. This qualitative social research project described and documented some of the gaps in legal services available to injured workers. Data were collected through interviews with persons throughout California representing labor organizations, legal aid organizations, and a UC law school clinical program.

  9. "Return-to-Work in California: Listening to Stakeholders' Voices," July 2001. This qualitative social research project examined experiences and insights about medical practices, employer policies, and workers' compensation claims programs that can help injured workers return to long-term, sustained employment. Data were collected through focus groups of injured workers, insurance claims administrators, labor union representatives, management representatives, and health care providers.