Friday, July 17, 2009

Worker-safety board irks Schwarzenegger on heat rules

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday expressed disappointment with the state's worker-safety board, which fell short of approving emergency heat-safety rules at its meeting in Los Angeles.

“With today’s vote the board has failed in their mission to ensure the health and safety of California’s outdoor workers," the governor said in a statement.

Ag groups, wanting rules that spell out heat-safety rules more concisely, were likewise disappointed.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board considered an emergency heat rule last month, it declined to vote at all. Members had various reservations, including whether circumstances were so urgent as to require a quick rule change through the emergency process.

Len Welsh, chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, wanted a revised rule after eight employers were shut down in May for violations. The department's enforcement resources were maxed out, and the rule needed greater definition, Welsh said.

He offered a second alternative that altered the original proposal's shade requirements. But the board rejected it on Thursday, instead taking a vote on the original proposal — and came up with a draw.

Which means the emergency-rule process is pretty much dead for this year.

Check Capital Press next week for more on this.

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