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.
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.,
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
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
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
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 commentors. 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
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
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:
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
Section III Workers' Compensation Issues
Section IV Health and Safety Issues
Section V Program and Agency Operations
Section VI Commission's Future Activities