AB 1127 or the “Tosco Bill”

AB 1127 or the “Tosco Bill”

In California, in 1999, passage of the landmark legislation AB 1127 (Steinberg) culminated 16 years of efforts to give stronger prosecutorial power to district attorneys to address serious and willful violations of Cal/OSHA regulations which result in worker injuries and deaths. AB 1127 is sometimes referred to as the “Tosco Bill” after two fatal Tosco refinery explosions that killed four workers and galvanized public opinion.

The bill expanded and strengthened Cal/OSHA protections; increased civil and criminal penalties for willful, serious, and repeat violations of occupational safety and health standards; and perhaps most significantly, provided that willful violation of such standards leading to death or permanent or prolonged injury of an employee may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Cry Wolf Quotes

Proponents of the bill never provided any evidence that increasing penalties or allowing more lawsuits would actually reduce injuries or illnesses in the workplace. What is certain is that employers in California will now face far greater penalties for alleged safety and health violations than employers any-where else in the nation. Undoubtedly, this will lead to much greater litigation of Cal/OSHA citations.

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Jeffrey M. Tanenbaum, of Littler Mendelson, P.C.

For the last few years, Cal/OSHA has attempted to create a partnership with employers to create safe workplaces for all employees. This partnership has been focused on working together to solve problems rather than merely serve as an enforcement driven agency. The agency’s consultation service is evidence of the efforts. AB 1127 would, with the stroke of a pen, erase years of hard work and co-operation between business and the agency by focusing on the prescription of regulations rather than the creation of workable answers to true workplace safety issues.

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Terry L. Tyson, Regional Director of Safety, Hansen Aggregates, letter to Assembly Public Safety Committee.

...this is a very dangerous measure that will seriously affect virtually every employer in the state. The only outcome form this measure’s approval would be the closing of many businesses which, in-turn, would throw thousands of employees out of their jobs.

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Philip M. Vermeulen on behalf of the Engineering Contractors’ Association, the California Fence Contractors Association, the Sacramento Builders’ Exchange, the Marin Builders’ Exchange and the California Chapter of the American Fence Contractors’ Association.

… the construction industry is involved in Voluntary Protection Programs with their employees to help encourage safety precautions and identify possible dangers before an injury occurs. AB 1127 does nothing to encourage this type of cooperation between employers and employees to promote worksite safety.

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Associated General Contractors of San Diego letter to Public Safety Committee.