Get ready for another COVID-related marathon courtesy of Cal/OSHA, as the Division of Occupational Safety and Health has set February 11th, 12th, and 16th for advisory committee talks with stakeholders. The three meetings will cover separate sections of the controversial emergency temporary standard.
The announced purpose of the meeting is to allow stakeholders to suggest possible changes to the regulation. A regulation that has been promulgated – some say illegally – and is being tested in court. DOSH says it will make available a “discussion draft” with potential changes before the meeting. We are sure business interests have an agenda too.
California’s over-regulation has demolished the economy and small businesses. Many other states have wide open economies and no draconian emergency regulations. South Dakota, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and many other states have remained open and experienced less tragedy, lower death rates, and far lower unemployment rates. But California chooses to destroy business and create widespread unemployment. It lost control of its unemployment system, producing some $30 billion in fraudulent claims –– to be paid by employers.
Our constituency is hurting too. Safety and health jobs in private industry have been eliminated as part of corporate layoffs, while government jobs in the same arena are hard to fill. The insurance industry, which prices based upon gross receipts and payroll, is also down. California is chasing those capable of paying taxes out, not to mention the exodus of both physical businesses and corporate headquarters.
The meeting promises to be controversial as the anger in the business communities is palpable. The advisory committee meetings will be a chance to make the case for actual revisions.
DOSH envisions the temporary standard as the basis for a permanent standard on general industry protections from infectious diseases, not just – as Biden, in a clearly racist executive order has attempted to prevent us from saying – the China virus or Wuhan virus.
One must ask why we can say “Nigerian” variant, “South African” variant, the “British or UK” variant, the “Brazilian” variant, or as we like to refer to California’s – Cal.20C – the California deviant, but we can’t say China virus? There is nothing xenophobic about identifying the source.
The meeting comes against a backdrop of very good news. Multiple vaccines are available (although California is having distribution problems), treatments for serious infections have generally become lifesaving, and hospitalizations are down. Most people who test positive experience minor symptoms and isolate but require no medication. The death rates are way down. Cases in the workforce are narrowing as the virus runs its natural course. The variants are responding both to the vaccines and treatment.
All three meetings start at 10 a.m., ending at 4 p.m. The February 11th and 12th meetings will cover §§ 3205 (general requirements), 3205.1 (multiple infections and outbreaks), and 3205.2 (major outbreaks). The February 16th meeting will discuss §§ 3205.3 (prevention in employer-provided housing) and 3205.4 (prevention in employer-provided transportation to and from work). The proceedings will be held via videoconference; DOSH has not yet issued a link.
DOSH hosted a five-hour stakeholder meeting on December 18th, during which a myriad of people vented about the problems they are having complying with the complex regulation. The regs are in conflict with statute, making compliance next to impossible.
It is no secret that few businesses in California – those that are open and continue to exist – other than very large ones are in or ever will be in compliance with the regs.
The advisory committee meetings will be a chance to make the case for actual revisions. DOSH envisions the temporary standard as the basis for a permanent standard on general industry protections from infectious diseases, not just the virus from China.