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Meeting the Needs of California's Workforce

Posted on Feb 25, 2014

Staffing ShortagesA former Cal/OSHA senior staffer issued a report in early February 2014 that highlights historically low rates of staffing at Cal/OSHA. The report asserts that inadequate numbers of workplace inspectors significantly impacts DOSH’s ability to meet its mandates, including benchmarks set by the federal government for responding to complaints, and state requirements for inspecting tunnels under construction six times a year.

While DIR disputes some of the data in the report, they are in the process of hiring more inspectors and making an effort to get the word out about open positions. At the first Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee meeting of 2014, agency representatives discussed their plans to hire at least 25 inspectors at locations throughout California, with hopefully more positions to be posted soon. Click here for the listing of current opportunities.


Worksafe Responds to Cal/OSHA Chief’s Resignation

Posted on Sep 18, 2013

On September 4, 2013, Ellen Widess resigned from her position as Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), also known as Cal/OSHA. Worksafe and many of our allies among unions, worker centers, and OSH professionals were caught off guard by the news; even more startling was the characterization of the OSH community’s reaction by the Cal-OSHA Reporter, which claimed that “both employer and labor representatives were practically jubilant at the news.” Worksafe was the only organization that was quoted on the record; we praised her work in carrying out the mission of the agency: to protect the health and safety of California workers.

A little more than a week later, the Cal-OSHA Reporter printed a handful of letters from agency staff, worker advocate organizations, and OSH professionals who supported her record and chastised the publication for its biased reporting. The Cal-OSHA Reporter mentioned in passing but did not print any of the letters from organized labor. Her detractors remain unidentified.


Agency Oversight: Division of Occupational Safety and Health

Posted on Feb 10, 2010

A Weakened Enforcement Agency
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH or Cal/OSHA) enforces the laws adopted by the legislature to ensure that workers’ places of employment are safe and healthy. Cal/OSHA also sets administrative regulations to implement the laws.

Inspector RatiosChronic Understaffing
Regrettably, Cal/OSHA has been chronically underfunded for over two decades, so much so that it has not been effective in doing its job of protecting California workers. The state has 17 million workers and one million worksites. Yet Cal/OSHA has been allotted only 203 inspector positions with only 187 positions filled. It would take Cal/OSHA 189 years to inspect every workplace in California. There are more Fish & Game Wardens (200) in California than Cal/OSHA inspectors.


Agency Oversight: Appeals Board

Posted on Feb 10, 2010


An Employer-Biased Appeals Board

The Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board ("Appeals Board"), through its administrative law judges (ALJs), hears employer appeals of citations and penalty assessments, either affirming, revising or reversing citations or penalty amounts issued by Cal/OSHA.

The Appeals Board consists of three members, with one seat designated each for a Labor member, Management member, and a Public member. As is the case with the Standards Board, each board member is appointed by the governor.


Agency Oversight: Standards Board

Posted on Feb 10, 2010


A Broken Standard-Setting Process

The seven members of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board ("Standards Board") are appointed by the governor. There are designated positions for management, labor, occupational safety, occupational health, and the general public.

However, there is no requirement that board members have the type of scientific expertise needed to understand the standards under consideration.

While the Standards Board has industrial hygienists on its staff, it has no toxicologists or other medical experts. It has access to the scientific expertise of the Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS), part of the Department of Public Health.


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