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
It is doubtful that doubling criminal provisions and the imposition of exorbitant fines will proportionally improve worker safety. Provisions to impose larger potential fines on corporations are also unfair and unjustified.
… 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.
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.
[According to Chamber of Commerce] the regulations create a new ‘unclassified’ workplace violation, giving the state agency the ability ‘to strong-arm employers for higher penalties.’