Cal/OSHA abatement mandate moves forward

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 13, 2014

The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee approved a bill that creates a costly, double-appeals process within the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) that presumes an employer’s guilt and undermines their due process regarding citations for workplace safety violations.

Currently, the law provides for a stay of abatement for issues on appeal. AB 1634 (Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley) would require employers to abate the alleged safety hazard, for which they were cited then appealed, before the Cal/OSHA appeals board has determined that a violative condition even exists. This results in a dual appeals process. Without the hearing on the appeal to determine the validity of the citation, an employer would be required to incur significant costs to abate a hazard that is ultimately proven to not to exist.

AB 1634 is also unnecessary. For those situations where an unabated condition could prolong an employee's exposure to serious hazards, the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board adopted an expedited appeals process in July 2013. Thus far, this process, which was agreed upon by labor and management, has proven effective.

The Governor vetoed an almost identical bill last year (AB 1165, Skinner) because he felt the process was duplicative of current efforts.

AB 1634 passed out of committee on a three to one vote And has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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