Honorary Exemplary Health Equity Practice Award

2019 Awardee | Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is working in close partnership with community organizing group Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) to address the need for a regulatory inspection program to ensure a healthy work environment for farmworkers, specifically accessible, safe, and clean toilets. Many farmworkers have limited access to social, economic, or political power due to language, culture, and immigration status. They may be reluctant to file complaints with Cal OSHA, the work site, or other entities for fear of retaliation. Although there are existing laws, there is insufficient Cal OSHA oversight or enforcement. The partnership began in fall 2017 after CAUSE expressed concerns to both SBCPHD and several members of the Board of Supervisors. Since then, SBCPHD has convened a multi-sectoral workgroup consisting of CAUSE, labor groups, community-based organizations, California Rural Legal Aid, UC Merced, farmworkers, and industry owners and representatives to jointly address the field sanitation issue through data collection and policy recommendations. The work group has also committed to serving as a health advisory group to work together across sectors to improve the health of farmworkers, including their access to clean drinking water.

From left: Paige Batson, deputy director of community health, Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health, Van Do-Reynoso, director, Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health and Jackie Ruiz, health educator, Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health, pose with the Advancing Health Equity Award at a Dec. 3 ceremony in Oakland, CA. Photo courtesy of The California Endowment.

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