Section IV

Health and Safety Issues

Trends in California Workplace Health and Safety

OSHA Injury and Illness Rates in California California's work injury and illness rates have continued to decline significantly since 1992.

Occupational Injury and Illness Rates in California by Sector

The following chart shows that the work injury and illness rate in the private sector dropped from 8.4 cases per 100 employees in 1993 to 7.4 cases in 1995. In the public sector where work injury rates are traditionally higher, the rates have also declined significantly for state government employees.

Lost Time Injury and Illness Rates in California by Sector

While there has been a drop in the public sector rates, the lost-time incidence rate in the private sector has remained nearly constant.

Loss Control

Reform Requirements

To enhance the health and safety of California workers, the workers' compensation reform legislation

Loss Control Services

The reform legislation requires workers' compensation insurers to identify and provide certified occupational safety and health loss control services to those of its insureds who have the greatest workers' compensation losses and the most significant preventable health and safety hazards.

Loss control services are those services offered by insurers to employers in order to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the potential for workers' compensation losses. Loss control management consists of the identification of the employer's risk exposure, measurement and analysis of exposures, the selection of appropriate loss control action and the implementation of loss control measures. Loss control services include workplace hazard surveys, training programs, consultations, accident analyses and industrial hygiene services.

Insurers must provide (or contract with others to provide) loss control consultation services to all identified selected employers. These services must include evaluation of the employer's operations, identification of factors most related to the losses experienced by the employers, formulation of recommended loss control measures, a written report documenting the consultation and ongoing evaluation of the employer to determine the effectiveness of the consultation.

Insurers may not charge the employer any fee in addition to the insurance premium for these services. At the time the policy is issued, and each year after, the insurer must provide a written description of the loss control consultation services available to the insured as well as providing the name and address within the Division of Occupational Safety and Health where comments about the insurer's services may be registered.

Loss Control Certification

The Loss Control Certification Unit (LCCU) in the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) certifies the loss control capabilities of insurers. To qualify for certification, the insurer must develop an annual loss control plan and must demonstrate that it can deliver effective loss control services to its policyholders.

The LCCU certifies workers' compensation insurance carriers and holds the insurance carriers responsible for loss control services. Each Annual Loss Control Plan package submitted must list the loss control personnel, their individual qualifications, and a detailed description of the services provided along with an explanation of how the personnel are qualified to address the specific activities and settings of an insured.

The certification process is funded by carrier fees (based on the prior year's premiums) and revenue from the certifications go exclusively to support the LCCU.

Selection of Employers for Loss Control Services

Current law (Labor Code Section 6354.5) allows an insurer to choose its own methodology for selecting employers "with the greatest workers' compensation losses and the most significant and preventable health and safety hazards." This position still has the support of the insurance industry, but specific selection methods are being studied.

As a result, the LCCU reports that it has seen an array of "methodologies" from the insurers. Some use the experience modification rating or the loss ratio. Others use governing classifications, a "Hazard Index", SIC Codes, frequency rates or a larger than normal number of claims in general or a specific type of claim (e.g., back injuries).

While the LCCU has not determined that certain types of service plans are clearly better than others, the staff insists that the quality of a plan depends on a carrier's ability to combine several areas of knowledge, in brief:

High-Hazard or Targeted Inspection and Consultation Program

The reform legislation directed the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to begin a program targeting especially hazardous employers for consultations and inspections, to be funded by assessments upon employers with higher than average workers' compensation costs.

In early 1995 DOSH began notifying employers that they have been identified as high hazard places of employment because of a high score on a frequency-based formula based on their experience modification (for insured employers) or a severity-based formula for self-insured employers. DOSH offered consultation services to the employers to help them address the occupational safety and health issues that cause them to be high hazard.

The High Hazard Targeted Inspection Program is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 1999, per Labor Code Section 62.7.

CHSWC Public Forum on High Hazard TIP

The Commission is planning to hold a public hearing/open forum to discuss the Cal-OSHA High Hazard Targeted Inspection Program and Assessment, before it is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 1999. This is intended to provide the opportunity for the workers' compensation community to discuss and comment on the operation of the program and its effectiveness. This would also support potential Commission recommendations in this area and also provide information to the Legislature regarding continuing the program.


Ergonomic standards

A provision of the 1993 reform legislation required the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt workplace ergonomics standards by January 1, 1995, in order to minimize repetitive motion injuries.

On January 18 and 23, 1996, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) held public hearings in Northern and Southern California to consider revisions to Title 8, General Industry Safety Orders, Section 5110 of the California Code of Regulations regarding ergonomics. The Standards Board received over 900 oral and written comments from 203 commenters. The proposed ergonomics regulation was modified as the result of these comments.

On July 15, 1996, the Standards Board provided a 15-day public comment period in which to provide comments on the modifications. In addition, the proposal was discussed by the Board Members at its September 19, 1996 business meeting. At that time, the Board Members reconsidered the positions taken on certain issues in the proposal and as a result, further modifications were made to Section 5110.

On October 2, 1996, the Standards Board provided a second 15-day public comment period in which to provide comment on the further modifications. No further substantive changes were made to the proposal as the result of comments received. The proposal was adopted by the Board at its November 14, 1996 business meeting and submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for its review and approval.

On January 2, 1997, OAL disapproved Section 5110 based on clarity issues. The Standards Board addressed OALís concerns and provided a third 15-day public comment period on February 25, 1997. No modifications were made as the result of the comments received. Therefore, the proposal was re-adopted by the Board at its April 17, 1997 business meeting and resubmitted to OAL for its review and approval. OAL responded with additional concerns regarding subsection headings. The Standards Board incorporated OAL's recommendations and resubmitted the final proposal to OAL on May 16, 1997. On June 3, 1997 the proposal was approved by OAL and became effective July 3, 1997.

On July 15, 1996 and October 2, 1996, the California Labor Federation, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and American California Trucking Associations filed legal briefs with the Sacramento Superior Court in opposition to the newly adopted Ergonomics standard. A court hearing is tentatively scheduled for September 5, 1997 to resolve the legal disputes filed by labor and business industries.

Young Worker Health and Safety

The Commission is concerned with and supports efforts to prevent work injuries and illnesses. During the course of its activities, the Commission has become aware of the particular need to focus on the health and safety of young workers.

California Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety

Every year about 70 adolescents die from work injuries in the United States. Approximately 70,000 are injured severely enough to require treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Most of these injuries are preventable.

In September 1996, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation funded the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) to convene and staff a statewide Study Group on Young Workers' Health and Safety, to find ways to address this issue in California.

The Study Group brings together 30 key representatives from government agencies and statewide organizations that are involved with California youth employment and education issues, or that can otherwise play a role in educating and protecting young workers. This includes representatives from key government agencies, parent organizations, teachers organizations, employers, and others. Member organizations are listed below.

The purpose of the study group is to identify potential strategies to:

The Study Group has begun to begin identifying the scope of the problem in California, data gaps that need to be filled, existing educational and enforcement efforts, and key opportunities and new approaches, including improved coordination of efforts among governmental and private agencies.

The group is currently working on developing detailed recommendations for key strategies for better protecting young workers. through education, enforcement, incentive programs, and engineering controls.

By the end of 1997, LOHP will produce a written report including these recommendations, as well as a resource list of study group members, and descriptions of any activities initiated by individual study group members.

Several members have already found ways to use the information shared at meetings, and to begin working with others in the Study Group. For example. the California PTA will be distributing written information on health and safety and child labor laws to all their affiliates. Participating work experience educators are now distributing LOHP's Young Worker fact sheet to their students. LOHP has been invited to make a presentation to the statewide Schools to Career Task Force, and at their upcoming teacher conference, "Collaborating for Academic Excellence."

The Commission has decided to fund the Study Group for an additional year to accomplish the following:

    1. Identify three to four key strategies (based on 1997 recommendations) that require further study and development. Set up roundtables of key agencies and constituency representatives to discuss and develop more detailed recommendations. Some of the possible areas of interest identified to date include:

    2. Develop an expanded resource list of agencies and available materials, listing all activities related to educating and/or protecting young workers in California.

    3. Identify strategies for filling data gaps regarding the scope of teen employment in California, as well as injury and illness rates by age, industry and type of work.

Safety and Health Education Video for Young Workers

The Commission has contracted with the UCLA Labor Occupational Health Program (LOSH) to develop a 10 to 15 minute video and discussion guide for use in the classroom to educate students how to identify health and safety hazards on their jobs and to understand their rights and responsibilities under Cal-OSHA and Californiaís child labor laws. This project has received the support of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Students and teachers will be involved in all aspects of the video project.

LOSH is one of three model projects funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health -- NIOSH -- to develop and implement health and safety curricula in US high schools. During a LOSH project at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, participants identified the need for a video to be used in the classroom. LOSH has previously produced eight videos on workplace health and safety that have been distributed nationally.

The video will be accompanied by a discussion guide and will be distributed at no cost to all 49 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. LOSH plans to disseminate the video to all other school districts in state at minimal cost.

Executive Summary: Findings and Recommendations

Section I The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation

Section II Reform Legislation Impact on the Workers' Compensation Community

Section III Workers' Compensation Issues

Section IV Health and Safety Issues

Section V Program and Agency Operations

Section VI Commission's Future Activities