Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No Teeth, No Respect

One of the topics that was discussed at the 11th Annual National Workers' Compensation Insurance ExecuSummit held at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center & Hotel in Uncasville, CT was the deterrent effect workers' compensation could have over and above safety regulations on worker safety.

The theory goes (and I'm sure has some validity) that when properly educated an employer would see the light be providing a more safe work place and instigate work safety initiatives and incentives.

Some employers don't care.

Alas, an administrative law judge's appeal decision last month upheld serious citations issued by Cal OSHA to San Francisco-based adult film employer Treasure Island Media Inc. for inadequate protection of employees during production of adult film videos.

Serious citations are those that can cause death or serious physical injury. The final penalty for the safety violations was $8,670, lowered on administrative appeal from Cal OSHA's proposed penalty of $20,485.

The allegations were that Treasure Island Media performers were featured having sex with multiple partners without mandated controls to prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including HIV, and Hepatitis B and C. The bloodborne pathogen standard for workplaces was adopted to prevent workers from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.

The first serious violation alleged that Treasure Island lacked an exposure control plan to limit employee contact with infectious bodily materials during filming and set cleaning. The second cited the failure to observe universal precautions during film production and failure to institute engineering and work practice controls, including the use of condoms.

This has not been the first time CalOSHA took action against the company.

In 2009, the Cal OSHA High Hazard Unit cited Treasure Island Media for numerous general violations as well as the two serious violations for failure to protect employees against sexual transmission of bloodborne pathogens.

Obviously neither workers' compensation nor the abysmally small penalties have served as a deterrent to the company nor have they served as motivation to comply - apparently these "incentives" are more a cost of doing business rather than motivation to comply with the law and provide a safe working place for its employees.

Yesterday I talked about the Rule of Law - yes, most people in my observation are respectful of the Rule of Law.

But when the Rule of Law lacks sufficient "teeth" then those with less respect for it won't comply.


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  2. I agree entirely. And the usual complaints of "over-deterrence" are hard to take seriously in the absence of any deterrence at all.

    Michael C. Duff

  3. I really do agree with you David. There are employers that don't care. We need more care in the workplace.

    Wayne. |