How to Make Cal/OSHA Stronger:
Our Sac Bee Op-Ed
We need a new model for California’s worker safety agency, backed by the resources to make work safe...
Cal-OSHA must first staff up and diversify in order to meet the challenge of protecting today’s workplaces... These positions must be filled quickly with a diverse, multilingual workforce that has the tools to connect with today’s workers and employers.
Cal-OSHA must also look ahead to new threats to worker’s safety — such as the dangers caused by heat and pandemics. The agency’s rule-making process, particularly for chemical hazards, is so ponderous it cannot remotely keep up with regulating the thousands of chemicals that today’s workers are exposed to on the job...
Lastly, California must empower Cal-OSHA to levy meaningful fines and collect them. A Sacramento Bee investigation found that employers have paid just 3% of fines assessed for failing to protect workers from COVID-19. The rest have ignored their responsibility or ensnared the agency in a lengthy appeals process.
Employers can break the rules with impunity when they know Cal-OSHA lacks the power to enforce them. The public record of COVID-19 citations issued to date makes clear that evading worker safety measures is not a problem for just a few bad apples.
Many of you on this list are long-time experts - we’d be glad to hear from you about what you think the agency needs to adapt to this new era.