Occupational Safety & Health:

California's Resumption of Enforcement Responsibility in the Private Sector

HRD-89-82: Published: Apr 17, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on California's resumption of the occupational safety and health enforcement program in the private sector, focusing on whether the program's staff and funds were sufficient to ensure compliance with state and federal occupational safety and health requirements.

GAO found that: (1) California authorized 214 compliance officer positions, of which 190 were for private-sector enforcement; (2) as of April 3, 1989, the state had about 95 compliance officers, many of whom had previously worked on the program prior to termination; (3) state officials expected to have at least 130 officers by May 1, 1989, at which time the state would assume private-sector enforcement responsibility from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); (4) the state would investigate accidents and conduct follow-up site inspections, and planned to fully staff the program by October 1, 1989; and (5) although California believed that its budget of $8.5 million for enforcement in fiscal year (FY) 1989 would be sufficient, it applied to OSHA for additional funds for FY 1989, and expected to do the same for FY 1990. GAO also found that: (1) OSHA plans to revise its FY 1990 budget request to include funds for California to administer its private-sector enforcement activities; (2) because of the uncertainty regarding funds availability, California would have to either provide additional state funds for the private-sector program or reduce program expenditures in 1990; (3) California plans to adopt, on an interim basis, the more stringent federal safety standards, and hopes to permanently upgrade state standards to the federal level; and (4) OSHA will track state inspections, penalty assessments, and collections to evaluate California's progress in adopting safety and health standards that are as effective as federal standards.

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