Workers Comp Zone


Does California really have too much regulation, or not enough?

Meg Whitman’s talking points claim that she will reduce regulations. But which ones? The idea of a nanny state is unpopular. But many regulations were developed for a purpose. To promote health and safety. To prevent abusive conduct. To set standards for fair competition.

Buzz words in talking points in a $150 million self funded ad campaign actually tell us little about what regulations Whitman would target.

Would Whitman ease up on occupational health and safety regulations?

If that’s her intention, the Schwarzenegger administration will be a pretty hard act to follow.

OSHA enforcement in California has been lax under Schwarzenegger. The department is understaffed for the number of workplaces to be evaluated.

And under Schwarzenegger OSHA board chair Candice Trager, penalties have been minimized.

It’s all documented in a Federally mandated review of California’s OSHA program just released. The report, examining Cal OSHA in 2009, paints a picture of an agency that is failing to protect workers and failing to get tough on employers who violate safety standards.

Here’s a link to the report, prepared by the Department of Labor’s Region IX in San Francisco: … ndices.pdf

The report documents many deficiencies in California’s OSHA program and demands corrective action.

Concerns included inadequate staffing, deficiencies in the investigative process, failure to properly train personnel, excessive delays between opening investigations and citations, delays in implementing certain regulations, and the failure of the Cal OSHA Appeals Board to interpret “substantial probability” and “serious hazard” in a manner consistent with the Federal OSHA definition.

The latter issue has been very controversial in California, as the business-friendly OSHA Appeals Board (OSHAB) has essentially adopted a sweetheart approach to business violators.

It’s a subject I covered some time ago in a post titled “The Problems at Cal-OSHA”: … 122-103155

Let’s hope that questioners in the upcoming debates make an effort to pin Whitman down. What regulations would she loosen or curtail? Does she support strong Cal-OSHA enforcement?

It’s the flip side of workers’ comp. Health and safety regulations can prevent injuries and occupational diseases.

Without many of these regs, workers’ comp costs would eventually rise.

Cheers to the Fed OSHA folks for riding herd on the Schwarzenegger rapscallions who would eviscerate OSHA.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments