Staffing troubles at Cal/OSHA worsening: Report

Agency failing to address workplace hazard reports

Staffing troubles at Cal/OSHA worsening: Report

Staffing has long been a problem at the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this even more, according to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal/OSHA is being called upon for emergency response efforts fielding complaints of COVID-19 related hazards at almost 9,100 workplaces. However, it has been able to provide compliance assistance to over 12,800 employers regarding COVID-19 hazards, and investigate over 600 serious illnesses and fatalities.

And the number of investigations keeps growing each day, according to the report released in February.

“Cal/OSHA’s lack of technical capacity in the field of industrial hygiene has frustrated the speed and scope of their response to the pandemic. Additional safety training is being provided to staff on an ongoing basis so they can assist without being exposed to the virus, but qualified staff are limited, and statutory mandates are not being met,” read part of the report.

“The Administration notes enforcement of health and safety regulations has been minimal to non-existent due to the lack of occupational health inspectors. As a result, workers in California continue to be exposed to COVID-related and other health hazards, and sustain serious illnesses and injuries, including death.”

The result? In the past year, in general, the average length of time to respond to complaints by onsite inspections has been 15 work days. The average length of time to respond to complaints by investigations by letter has been 11 work days. The average time to issue citations as a result of safety inspections has been 83 workdays, and as a result of health inspections, 90 workdays.

In March, WorkSafeBC increased workplace inspections across British Columbia before spring break and St. Patrick’s Day.

That same month, Ontario said it is investigating possible labour law violations at an Amazon warehouse in Brampton that was ordered to shut down because of a COVID-19 outbreak.