LAO: Cal-OSHA Failures Led to Higher Rates of Worker Illness, Injury
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has failed to comply with certain state laws, which has contributed to rates of worker illnesses and injuries in the state that are higher than the national average, according to a Legislative Analyst's Office report released Friday, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/13).
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in his fiscal year 2015-2016 budget proposal outlined several concerns related to Cal-OSHA, including:
- That the state has a higher rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses among workers than the national average;
- That Cal-OSHA has failed to comply with state laws; and
- Other issues.
In response to the concerns, Brown included in his proposal funding to add 34 inspectors to the agency and increase the number of annual inspections by about 1,400. Brown in his budget plan allocated $4.6 million in fiscal year 2015-2016 and $7.1 million in ongoing funding to make such changes.
Details of Report
LAO found that Brown's concerns "are valid" and agreed with his proposal of adding additional inspectors to the agency (LAO report, 3/13).
Specifically, the report found that Cal-OSHA has failed to:
- Follow up with some businesses that had been charged with serious violations;
- Meet timelines for complaint investigations; and
- Perform adequate inspections (Sacramento Business Journal, 3/13).
The report stated that Brown's proposal would address the situation by:
- Addressing enforcement-related workload problems by providing additional administrative and legal staff;
- Creating a new assistant district manager position to improve processing times for inspections;
- Enabling the agency to better comply with state law by increasing staff resources;
- Increasing inspections of "high-hazard" industries;
- Increasing inspection rates to national levels; and
- Prioritizing inspections of serious violations.
The report recommended that the state Legislature:
- Approve Brown's proposal for increased staffing levels at Cal-OSHA;
- Establish formal reporting requirements for outcomes of the proposal;
- Require the state Department of Industrial Relations to testify on the benefits and costs of replacing some inspectors in the high-hazard unit with assistant district managers; and
- Require DIR to testify on the effectiveness of targeted inspections of high-hazard industries (LAO report, 3/13).