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Backlog of Cases as Cal/OSHA Struggles With Staff Shortages

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A dearth of inspectors has left California workers without necessary protections and resulted in cases left open for excessively long periods according to sources within the department and an analysis of available data. More than a quarter of necessary inspectors are missing which is leading to less on-site inspections and personnel to efficiently review open cases.

Cal/OSHA has been suffering from a staff shortage for many years. However, recent conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have brought the situation to its breaking point.

Stephen Knight, executive director of Worksafe, a workplace safety advocacy organization, says, “Workers out in the field are asking, ‘Where is Cal/OSHA? Where is this agency that is supposed to be protecting us?’ They don’t see them. They don’t hear from them.”

Peter Melton, Public information officer for the California Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal/OSHA health and safety parameters, says that employers, "bear the ultimate responsibility," in regards to employee well- being and that Cal/OSHA's charge is to make sure employers, "meet those responsibilities." He added that the agency is in the process of aggressively recruiting and that filling open positions is a, "top priority."

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