Flash Report: Cal/OSHA Advisory Meeting Cancelled: Brown Travel Ban

By: Kevin Thompson

Members of California’s occupational safety and health community were looking forward to meeting new Division of Occupational Safety and Health Chief Ellen Widess at the May 5 Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee meeting in Fresno.

Instead, they’ll have to wait as Widess has cancelled the meeting because of a May 26 executive order by Gov. Jerry Brown banning non-essential travel by state employees. The committee will – or may – next meet July 7 in Oakland.

Brown banned all state employee travel that is not “mission critical.” The governor said state’s fiscal crisis doesn’t justify attending conferences, traveling to meetings or taking out-of-state field trips “and this executive order puts an end to it.”

Cal/OSHA employees are allowed to travel for enforcement activities and functions required by statute, contract or executive directive. Other mission-critical functions include auditing, revenue collection and job training necessary to maintain licensure or similar standards. The Cal/OSH Standards Board is expected to continue its monthly meetings around the state because its public hearings are mandated by the California Labor Code.

Brown’s executive order allows travel if there is no cost to the state, but restricts it to the minimum number of travels needed to accomplish the mission-critical objective.