Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Cal/OSHA Nixes Lone Medical Officer Position

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Cal/OSHA Nixes Lone Medical Officer Position

Article excerpt

The medical officer position, which has been vacant since January, has been eliminated by the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (CLWDA), according to a representative from the California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS), a union representing Cal/OSHA's inspectors.

Calling this measure the latest nick in "a death of a thousand cuts," CAPS local representative Garret Brown said the "stop-gap measure" would have a severe impact on various key programs that depend on the medical unit's participation, one of which is the enforcement of the nation's only ergonomics standard.

"Abolishing this position couldn't come at a worse time, especially when Cal/OSHA has been preparing for the bird flu pandemic," he said. Also, other programs such as medical expert testimony in appeal hearings and evaluation of employer medical surveillance programs will suffer as a result of the position being eliminated, he added.

The number of medical personnel in Cal/OSHA has dwindled since 1975; back then it had seven physicians and three registered nurses. The last physician with Cal/OSHA retired in 2005 and was once at risk of losing his position while former Gov. …

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