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
AB 1127 would unfairly hold an employer liable for violations of independent contractors over whom they had no control. This is not only unfair, it makes no sense. And, as a result, AB 1127 will discourage employers from hiring independent contractors, who are often small and minority-owned businesses.
Additionally, in a construction setting, where the type of work is inherently more dangerous than an office setting, it will be difficult to hire managers and supervisors for fear that they would be held criminally liable for accidents.
This bill would have a negative impact on California’s economy by creating an overly rigid regulatory structure that would discourage new businesses from locating here and existing businesses from expanding, therefore, slowing the economy.
AB 1127 … would place a powerful hammer in the hands of over-zealous prosecutors to intimidate businesses into pleading to lesser Labor Code violations when threatened with Penal Code prosecution.