Marchers occupy intersection in downtown Santa Ana
SANTA ANA, CALIF. — More than 125 people rallied and marched today in support of Santa Ana Kingspan Light + Air workers, as community, faith, labor and environmental groups work to hold the corporation accountable for its workplace safety violations and alleged industrial pollution. After occupying an intersection in downtown Santa Ana, marchers unfurled a giant parachute banner reading “!Kingspan Escucha!” as they called on the company to listen to workers’ concerns.
“We want better opportunities, a living wage, and a safe workplace,” said Israel Maldonado, an assembly lead at Kingspan Light + Air Division in Santa Ana. “We are united and have the support of the community.”
Kingspan is a multi-billion dollar building materials manufacturer, headquartered in Ireland. The company claims to be “planet passionate,” but over the past two years it has settled alleged “serious and chronic” violations of its stormwater pollution permit and been fined for violating health and safety standards at its Santa Ana factory.
“We stand in solidarity with the Santa Ana Kingspan Light + Air workers as they advocate for workplace safety and environmental justice,” said Marisol Ramirez, director of programs for Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD). “Every person has a right to a healthy work environment free from hazardous materials and unsafe conditions.”
In 2022, Cal/OSHA fined Kingspan $21,785 for 22 violations of the health and safety code, after workers filed a complaint. Cal/OSHA’s findings included five serious violations. Workers now allege several of the violations the company abated last year are recurring, including a failure to train workers on the safe use of hazardous chemicals, inadequate ventilation and insufficient personal protective equipment.
In 2021, workers blew the whistle on Kingspan with the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), alleging the company was not adhering to parts of its pollution prevention program. In May 2023, Kingspan settled and paid $45,000 to the Santa Ana Water Board for “serious and chronic” violations of its General Permit for Storm Water Discharges associated with its industrial permit.
Kingspan Santa Ana workers teamed up with UC Irvine professor and air pollution scientist Dr. Shahir Masri over a three-day period in August 2021 to document the levels of air pollution inside their factory. The results showed average levels of particulate matter that, if measured outdoors, would fall between “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” on the EPA’s air quality index — in fact, the average levels were 25% higher than the maximum concentration measured near Santa Ana during the 2020 wildfires in Northern California.