OSHA's Resumption of Private Sector Enforcement Activities in California

T-HRD-88-19: Published: Jun 20, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 1988.

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GAO discussed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) resumption of private sector worker protection activities in California to determine: (1) OSHA contingency plans for discontinued state-operated worker protection programs; (2) management and transition costs; (3) the impact on OSHA activities outside California; and (4) OSHA enforcement policies compared to California's. GAO found that OSHA: (1) did not terminate the California state plan, but is providing enforcement coverage until the courts determine the legality of the state's decision to discontinue private sector enforcement; (2) has no contingency plan to cover workers when states withdraw from worker protection responsibility, since it believes that it should handle such situations on a case-by-case basis; (3) was unable to use state staff members it had trained because it did not reach an agreement with California; and (4) calculated that transition costs were less than if the state program had continued and expected to spend $12.7 million to support 1988 operations, which was less than the $14 million California requested. GAO also found that, during the transition period, OSHA: (1) experienced significant disruptions in its monitoring of state-operated programs and internal audits; (2) performed only 43 of its 62 scheduled audits in 1987; (3) decreased the number of inspections performed compared to the state; and (4) did not cover as many potential worksite hazards as the California legislation had authorized.

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