Governor Brown Signs Bill to Speed Up Correcting Dangerous Working Conditions

September 22, 2014 - Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation, co-sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the California Labor Federation, that requires dangerous working conditions to be corrected quickly, rather than remaining unfixed while employers appeal the findings against them.

Assembly Bill 1634 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) repeals a loophole that has allowed employers to delay correcting dangerous workplace conditions while they appeal citations issued against them by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. This loophole permitted dangerous working conditions to persist long after hazards were identified. AB 1634 requires that serious workplace hazards be fixed prior to employers’ exhausting all their appeals.

Assemblymember Skinner commented: “Dangerous conditions that could cause serious injuries or even deaths need to be fixed as soon as they’re identified. The right to appeal shouldn’t put the safety of workers or the public at risk.” She added that appeals can drag on for years, and cited the case of a bakery where nine workers were seriously injured by unsafe equipment during the employers’ appeals process.

SBCTC President Robbie Hunter added: “Building and Construction Trades workers work in an industry that is recognized to be among the most dangerous occupations in the nation. Indeed, Cal-OSHA was formed in 1971 as a direct response to 17 Building Trades workers being killed while constructing a tunnel in Sylmar, California, resulting from unsafe conditions that had existed for a length of time before the accident. Our members are placed at enormous risk when working conditions are allowed to remain unsafe. We are deeply grateful to Assemblymember Skinner and to Governor Brown for their strong actions to require swift corrections to dangerous working conditions.”

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