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The diseased streets of San Francisco spread to rest of California

The diseased streets of San Francisco spread to rest of California

California highway maintenance workers facing health and safety hazards while cleaning up homeless encampments.

We recently took a look at the diseased streets of San Francisco, after local reporters revealed a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces spread throughout the city’s downtown area.

Now, as the number of homeless camps across the state skyrocket, union officials for highway maintenance workers are demanding health and safety protections for state employees who are exposed to the biological detritus while cleaning up roadside encampments.

In an official grievance filed last week, the union representing California’s maintenance workers accused the state of subjecting its members to hazardous conditions without proper training or equipment.

“It is the Union’s contention that Caltrans is not ensuring that our members are being provided the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), necessary training, necessary vaccinations and proper compensation for the dangerous hazmat duties they are performing when cleaning up homeless encampments on State Caltrans property,” International Union of Operating Engineers director Steve Crouch said in the complaint.

Crouch told KTVU on Monday that maintenance crews often have to work in areas where the ground is muddy, slippery and ridden with debris that can include objects that are exceedingly sharp. Other items are simply dangerous to touch, such as potentially toxic or biologically unsafe materials.

Workers who are potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens (such as Hepatitis B or HIV) are required under both state and federal law to have vaccinations, training, and proper PPE. Therefore, the claims being made by state employees are very troubling.

One Caltrans worker, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said he has been involved in at least six cleanups so far this year.

“I’ve been exposed to blood, needles, women’s feminine products… five-gallon buckets of human feces,” he told The Bee.

His protective gear? A pair of gloves, he said.

“And that’s really not protective,” he quickly added. “It’s funky, and I’m putting this politely. It’s extremely nasty. You never know what you’re going to step in.”

If these allegations prove true, and the regulating agencies follow-up, the penalty could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that this state cannot afford to lose. For example, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines the United States Postal Service over $300,000 after inspectors find workers exposed to bloodborne pathogen hazards at a Maryland facility in 2016.

But bacterial infections and exposure to viruses isn’t the only hazard these highway workers face. Workplace violence is also a significant concern for those who clean homeless camps.

Sometime they have pit bulls in there, They’ll, you know, let the dogs loose to chase the Caltrans workers out. Sometimes they’ll throw rocks at the Caltrans workers,” said Crouch. Add to that: live electrical lines and even the occasional weapon.

..”Their job is to maintain the highways and freeways, you know, that’s filling the potholes, that’s doing the striping of the lines, that’s doing the guardrails alone the edge, that’s trimming the trees and shrubs and bushes along the highway. Their job is not to clean up homeless encampments,” said Crouch.

If Caltrans employees are expected to be hazmat employees, then they do need to be paid and trained as such. Otherwise, California is going to have to assign the tasks to another group of properly trained and protected employees.

The homeless may be living “cheaply”, but the expenses for the rest of us are exploding so that we can maintain at least the appearance of First World living. In its latest budget, Los Angeles alone has doubled the amount that it spends on addressing homeless issues (projected to be $430 million), and most of the money to pay for these services is being borrowed.

No matter the outcome of the union grievance, it is certain that it will not address the root causes of the rapid expansion of the homeless population in California. I anticipate more money will be squandered, and public health issues will not be adequately addressed, for quite some time. Hopefully, however, our workers will be better protected and paid for obviously hazardous work.


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Yep, that is how the disease of Liberalism spreads. Liberals never seem to have to be the ones to clean it up though.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Whitewall. | May 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    It sounds like San Francisco is a bit too welcoming to deplorables. The outcome was predictable.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Whitewall. | May 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    I think it is funny to reframe the deplorables handle to refer to those who do not pay their way, or those who sort of exist, but do a really bad job of raising children (Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown come to mind). Illegals are another group which deserve to be classed as deplorables. Take a look at middle eastern refugees in Europe, surely they are deplorables and also serve as a warning to not allow others of their ilk into America. The way Hillary has acted since being defeated makes her fair game for the deplorable designation. Those suffering from Trump psychosis are fair game for the deplorable label.

The empty suit mayor of Los Angeles (Eric Garcetti) wants to do to the rest of American what he’s done to Los Angeles.


    JusticeDelivered in reply to | May 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Was Eric Garcetti an anchor baby, and/or his parents recipients of Reagan amnesty in the eighties? Does anyone know?

      Milhouse in reply to JusticeDelivered. | May 2, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      No, you ignorant racist. Why would you even think that? And why don’t you ask the same question about Donald Trump or anyone else?

      Milhouse in reply to JusticeDelivered. | May 2, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Have you seriously never heard of Gil Garcetti?

        JusticeDelivered in reply to Milhouse. | May 3, 2018 at 10:46 am

        Yes, I have heard of Gil Garcetti, what I don’t know is if the family entered the US legally or when. Considering that there has been a huge increase in illegals and their offspring, it is a reasonable question.

        I don’t care that they are from Mexico and Hispanic, I do care if they are a shining examples of the illegal problem.

        Milhouse, you sounded a great deal like Rags in this post, do you have relevant facts regarding my question? Or is a nasty rant the extent of your capabilities today?

Henry Hawkins | May 2, 2018 at 3:50 pm

The Diseased Streets Of San Francisco….. Time for a modernized remake of that 1972 Karl Malden/Michael Douglas police detective TV show. So much more material now, so many new stories to cover.

    I was wondering if anyone recalled that show.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Leslie Eastman. | May 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      My father the cop watched all the cop shows, except Car 54 Where Are You? In a one TV pre-cable home, we watched along. I was a junior in HS in ’72. Well, I was a junior in ’71 and ’73 too, but ’72 is when the show came out.

    alaskabob in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 2, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Bullitt’s car chase stops when McQueen’s Mustang’s tires deflate from junkies needles in road. Or slides off road from feces slick surface. Plenty of new material.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to alaskabob. | May 2, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      See? A million different new story lines. Our detectives could be assigned to the SFPD’s ‘CIEU’, the Carbon Imprint Enforcement Unit, or maybe the Plastic Straw Unit. They should cast two middle-aged white men to play the detectives. One would be gay, of course, while the other’s considered self-identity is as a black woman who secretly, desperately wants to be a white male, having forgotten she already is. This show’s stereotypical ‘stakeout’ scenes would lose the usual grittiness and toxic maleness of your standard cop dramas. They’d be in a Prius eating tofu and hummus with NPR on the radio.

      Man, maybe we need to pitch this to Hollywood. Any commenters from SoCal?

        alaskabob in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 2, 2018 at 8:45 pm

        Episode 1: “The Last Straw”
        Episode 2: “The Naked City” (not to be confused with original series, just Castro Street and tent camps.)

        Last name of one detective.. “Sodom”.. the other.. well.. you know…

        Any more ideas for episodes?

        (disclaimer- still have a house in plastic fantastic SoCal and was associated with University of California-DisneyLand.)

    karl_lembke in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 3, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Maybe “The Straits of San Francisco”, which everyone will hear as “the straights of San Francisco”.

Harold Jay | May 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm

I have seen these camps near on ramps and off ramps. Won’t be long before cars are stopped and robbed entering or exiting the freeway. All that is needed is a group of homeless standing in the road to make a car stop. Don’t co-operate? A rock through the window anf you are helpless. Run ’em down, and you are the one hiring an expensive lawyer to stay out of jail.
Gonna be like the Old West stagecoach robberies.

    alaskabob in reply to Harold Jay. | May 2, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Pan handling and squeegies

    Geologist in reply to Harold Jay. | May 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Harold, please stop giving suggestions like this. It happened to me in Tijuana, Mexico. Five guys (pedestrians) blocked the road in front of me, forcing me to stop my car. This was on a highway. I reversed, did a U-turn, and drove the wrong way on the highway to get away. I am guessing that it was a car-jacking attempt.

How much does that union give to democrats?

Democrat vote farms.

snapper451 | May 2, 2018 at 8:57 pm

We need to show this as the reason we must win the mid-terms because this is what Pelosi would bring. In addition, the wretch Kamala Harris in 2020.

This is the natural outcome of socialism. Whenever socialism is supported, the leaders become rich while the population suffers endlessly. We’ve seen it in Venezuela, are watching it as it is occurring in much of Europe and now we are watching it in California. When will we ever learn?

I would think that identification and clean-up of hazardous waste sites would be in the charter for the State’s Environmental agencies. Now that a potentially hazardous waste site has been brought to their attention, it should be their duty to investigate it, survey it, determine the extent and types of hazards, and manage the clean-up & mitigation process.

In the O&G industry, we have dozens and scores of environmentalists on site at any given time. They often outnumber our engineering staff. And they are out there every day: testing, sampling, recording, monitoring, etc. What they do is NOT a maintenance function.

And, oh boy – there is a HUGE difference between a professional environmentalist vs. a professional environmental activist. (And many professional environmentalists despise the activists for their idiocies and the bad name that their antics give to the profession.)

danvillemom | May 3, 2018 at 9:39 am

In CA freeway off-ramps are used by people with signs asking for money. In SJ there are camps on the freeway greenbelts. A few years ago they had to clear out the SJ encampment called “The Jungle” – there were hundreds of people that had been living there for multiple years. It took dump truck after dump truck to clear it out and make the park safe again for families. We are glad we left CA.

It occurred to me this morning that no one is asking the question about these homeless populations that needs to be asked.

Why the sudden MASSIVE surge in homeless over the last 6 – 10 years?

We apparently have plenty of Federal money for helping hundreds of thousands of refugees and unaccompanied children, in addition to the typical number of illegal immigrants we normally have.

Soooo……is the money that was previously being used to help the homeless being siphoned off for housing and social services for refugees and that massive increase in “unaccompanied children” that came on trains under Obama?

I think it is. And if I’m right, then someone should be calling attention to it because that is a terrible travesty!

RoyDMercer | May 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm