Worksafe coordinated a strong response to a concerted push this fall by business interests seeking to undermine COVID-19 protections in California workplaces.
The November OSH Standards Board meeting saw the business community urging extraordinary procedural shortcuts in order to advance a petition from the Western Steel Council. WSC’s proposal would undercut Cal/OSHA and the Standards Board in favor of general guidance issued by the state Department of Public Health. And the guidance would be folded into Injury and Illness Protection Programs rather than any COVID-specific set of standards.
It’s just the latest twist on the corporate argument that we see made time and again against detailed protections for workers, in favor of weak guidance and hamstrung enforcement. The Standards Board showed signs of wavering.
But eventually the overwhelming weight of common sense turned the tide, including Chair Dave Thomas reminding fellow Board members at this month's meeting that California remains in the midst of the most serious workplace safety crisis of our lifetimes. The Board voted 6-1 to continue the COVID Emergency Temporary Standard well into 2022. And employer arguments to undermine the ETS going forward failed to gain traction.