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August 05, 2016

Cal/OSHA Standards Board to Convene Advisory Committee

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—By letter dated Aug. 2, the California Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board has issued rulings on two petitions filed with the agency, one from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the other from adult industry trade group Free Speech Coalition (FSC). The Board granted both petitions in so far as they will both be considered by "an advisory committee, with stakeholder involvement inclusive of AHF, FSC, and a diverse cross section of the adult film industry." The purpose of the advisory committee, according to the Standard Board's letter, will be to "consider amending or expanding upon Title 8, Section 5193, to specifically address risks of employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens and STDs in the adult film industry." The last time the Board considered such an amendment/expansion was on Feb. 18, when more than 100 adult industry members and supporters convinced the Board not to enact proposed Health Code amendment Section 5193.1—a move which is believed to have been the impetus for the new advisory committee. In its petition, which the Board has labeled "Petition 557," AHF seeks to have the Board rule that "existing standards"—that is, current Health Code Section 5193—do apply to adult film, and also to add requirements for performers to obtain vaccinations for Hepatitis A and HPV, have "confidential medical exams for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) not included in the BBP [blood borne pathogen] standard, take HIV prevention drug Truvada, and have additional training. In the Free Speech petition, which the Board has labeled "Petition 560," rather than making particular findings, the Cal/OSHA staff "recommends that the Petitioner provide quantitative data on the effectiveness of its testing protocol as compared to proper condom use," adding, "The Division also highlights an OSHA Appeals Board decision after reconsideration in which the Appeals Board held that Section 5193 applies to the adult film industry." Further, in the section labeled "Board Staff's evaluation of Petition 560," it states that the Standards Board's staff's evaluation "makes clear that California's BBP standard, Section 5193, applies to all employees having reasonably anticipated exposure to blood or OPIM [Other Potentially Infectious Materials]." Adult industry members are well aware that the existing Section 5193 requires not only the use of condoms during sexual contact, but also latex gloves, goggles, face shields and even "protective clothing." Finally, under the "Decision and Order" section, the Board claims that it "does not have the option of adopting a standard less effective in protecting employees in the adult film industry, than does the existing federal standard broadly applicable to occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials." That "existing federal standard" can be found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1030, and while it echoes much of Section 5193 of the California Health Code, it does not refer specifically to the adult entertainment industry—in fact, similarly to Section 5193, it doesn't even mention it. "On Tuesday, Cal/OSHA announced that the two separate petitions regarding set safety—one from AHF, one from FSC in conjunction with the performer group APAC—would be combined in order to conduct regulatory hearings," said FSC spokesperson Michael Stabile. "Neither made any new pronouncements, but merely reiterated that they would be evaluating the petitions in respect to existing Bloodborne Pathogen standards. We are looking forward to the hearings, since they will mark the first time that adult performers have been granted a real voice in the regulations that affect their lives and health—something that was insisted upon by the Standards Board in February, when over a hundred adult performers showed up to protest Cal/OSHA's condoms and goggles regulation." The Cal/OSHA Standards Board will be discussing both petitions as well as the formation of the advisory committee at its meeting on Aug. 18 in Walnut Creek, in the City Hall Council Chambers, 1666 N. Main Street, Walnut Creek CA 94596, beginning at 10 a.m. Many adult industry members are expected to attend.

 
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