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

It is our belief that while AB 1127 will not guarantee the prevention of even one injury, it has the potential to cost our members hundreds of thousands of dollars in new programs based on unsound science and face potential increases in workers’ compensation costs.

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Western Growers Association, Memo to Assembly Public Safety Committee.

The provisions of this bill are extremely open-ended, and encumber both employers and Cal/OSHA with many unreasonable administrative burdens and costs.

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Western States Petroleum Association letter to Assemblyman Mike Honda, Chairman, Public Safety Committee.

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.

Serves to drive independent contractors out of business and inhibit the ability of small business to survive by making the business liable for actions of a contractor. Small business and contractors who become small businesses are taking up the slack from corporate downsizing and contribute greatly to the prosperity of the state.

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Letter from Ronald D. Long, Director of Human Resources, M.C. Gill Corporation.