Legal or Illegal Nobody Knows Yet…

Flash Report: Unprecedented Action & Removed Activists re Indoor Heat Reg

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board, despite being directed to remove the indoor heat illness prevention regulation from its scheduled vote today, in an unprecedented action, unanimously approved the standard anyway, leaving the Board in “uncharted territory,” as Board Chief Counsel Autumn Gonzalez put it. But what led to the action is the real story.

The move came in a day full of surprises. The Board was informed Wednesday evening that the California Department of Finance rescinded approval of a portion of the Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment, a required document before any regulation can be implemented. What was rejected were the parts relating to the fiscal impact on public entities and, therefore, taxpayers.

That queued up a morning of angry testimony from labor advocates and its activist workers who came to the San Diego meeting expecting approval of the long-sought standard.

Then, those activists literally shut down the meeting. They chanted slogans shaming the state for the sudden move, and the sheriffs had to remove the protesters from the meeting.

The Board’s subsequent vote was essentially a protest in itself and is unprecedented in that it was made – some say illegally – because of the lack of fiscal approval.

It is unclear what happens next.

One stakeholder suggested that legislation might be necessary, and Board members said an emergency meeting might be necessary to actually finalize the standard. The current rulemaking clock on the proposed General Industry Safety Orders §3396 ends in April; otherwise, Cal/OSHA will have to start all over again on a rule that has been in the works since 2012. Then again, the fiscal analysis refiling may very well take longer than April.

So, legal or illegal, the controversial heat standard passed. But will it stick is the question.