Improve OSH Regulations

Anyone can be an advocate for regulations that improve occupational safety and health conditions for workers and protect workers who are injured, suffer retaliation as a result of injury or involvement in occupational safety and health advocacy, etc.

Regulatory advocacy requires keeping track of what is being considered by Cal/OSHA or the OSH Standards Board and includes attending meetings of various Regulatory Advisory Committees, writing letters, testifying at a hearing when a regulatory proposal is being considered by the OSH Standards Board, or even helping to mobilize workers who may be directly affected by a regulatory proposal to participate in the regulatory process (meetings, letters, testifying). These are just a few examples. The sections below describe how OSH regulations are promulgated in California and how to advocate within that process for the improvement of OSH regulations.

Understanding the Regulatory System

OSH Standards Board Activities and Testifying at Standards Board Hearings

Advisory Committees on Regulations

How to Find a Specific Regulation or Law

Understanding the Regulatory System
To be an OSH advocate requires an understanding of how OSH regulations are developed and adopted. The fact sheets below provide the background information necessary for understanding the agencies, bodies and processes involved in OSH regulation.

How Occupational Health Standards Are Developed
This fact sheet introduces some of the laws and government bodies through which OSH regulations are promulgated. It also introduces the process by which regulations are developed and adopted.

The Rulemaking Process
In California, OSH regulations are adopted via the Rulemaking Process by which the legislature grants to a state agency the authority to draft and adopt regulations. The linked flowchart illustrates this process.

The Rulemaking Process: OSH Standards Board
The linked flowchart illustrates the specific process by which OSH regulations are adopted through the OSH Standards Board.

In California, issues of occupational safety and health are generally handled through the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The fact sheets linked below chart the organization of the DIR and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH or Cal/OSHA) which falls within it.

DIR Organizational Chart

Cal/OSHA Organization Chart

To contextualize these fact sheets, see the following articles for a discussion of some of the obstacles blocking the improvement of occupational safety and health standards:

“Doubt is Their Product,” by David Micheals, published in Scientific American, June, 2005, Vol. 292, Issue 6.
Short version; Long version

"Industry Influence on Occupational and Environmental Public Health,” by James Huff, PhD, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

OSH Standards Board Activities and Testifying at Standards Board Hearings

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, a seven-member body appointed by the Governor, is the agency which sets standards (also called regulations) used by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) as the basis for determining whether the employer is providing a safe place to work for his or her employees. The Standards Board holds hearings on proposals regarding regulations and makes decisions about new regulations, amendments to existing regulations, and repealing regulations. The Standards Board also has the responsibility to grant or deny applications for variances from adopted standards and respond to petitions for new or revised standards. You CAN AND SHOULD TESTIFY AT BOARD HEARINGS to make sure that the safety and health of workers is registered for consideration.

Hearings on Proposed Regulations

The part-time, independent Board holds monthly meetings (hearings) usually, but not always, on the 3rd Thursday of each month in different locations around California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego.

If you want to keep track of the hearings, you may sign up with the OSH Standards Board and they will send you notices and minutes by post or by email. Sign up for the mailing list by submitting a Mailing List Request Form.

You can also keep track of OSH Standards Board activities through their website: Here you can find detailed information regarding the Board and its activities. This includes:

The OSH Standards Board meeting schedule, which includes a listing of the proposals to be heard at each meeting


Proposed regulations slated for hearing (By clicking on a particular proposal, you can find the date of the public hearing at which it will be considered.)

There is no central location for keeping track of all the various regulations under consideration by an Advisory Committee (see below) and when they are scheduled for Board hearing, nor is there a detailed explanation of what happens to each of those regulations as they proceed through the regulatory process. However, by keeping track of the calendars and schedules for the OSH Standards Board and the various Advisory Committees, it should be possible to follow important pending regulations and meetings. You can also contact the Board directly.

Advisory Committees on Regulations

Before the OSH Standards Board considers whether to adopt, amend or repeal a regulation, the regulatory proposal is often considered by an advisory committee made up of labor, management and experts from the health and safety professional community who are interested in or affected by the proposal. These advisory committees are staffed either by a Cal/OSHA or OSH Standards Board employee. These advisory committees are NOT required by law, but generally are utilized by Cal/OSHA or the OSH Standards Board to discuss regulations before the matter enters a more formal regulatory review process.

Regulatory Advisory Committees staffed by Cal/OSHA
Generally, but not always, these focus on health related regulations. For a listing of all meetings, click here.
You will find this same link on the main Cal/OSHA page in the alphabetical listings on the left side of the page.

Regulatory Advisory Committees staffed by the OSH Standards Board
Generally, but not always, these focus on safety related regulations. For a listing of all meetings, click here. You will find this same link on the main OSH Standards Board page in the alphabetical listing on the left side of the page. The staff member assigned to each regulatory advisory committee is listed as well.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in receiving information about that particular regulatory advisory committee, CONTACT the staff person and ask to be placed on the mailing list. In this way you will receive notice of each meeting, the minutes, and a list of the Advisory Committee members. You can attend the meeting and participate fully even if you are NOT an official Advisory Committee member. Additionally, if your name is on the Advisory Committee mailing list, you will be provided with notice of the official regulatory proceeding if eventually a regulatory change is proposed.

After the Advisory Committee meets, the Cal/OSHA staff or OSH Standards Board staff prepares minutes and incorporates changes suggested by the Advisory Committee into the regulatory proposal. There may be several meetings before a final proposal is ready. Although these Advisory Committees are voluntary (the OSH law does not require them), and although there are no requirements for consensus, the staff tries to achieve consensus.

WORKER PARTICIPATION - AND PARTICIPATION BY WORKER REPRESENTATIVES - IS KEY. When there are very few worker representatives who attend the Advisory Committee meetings, it is easier for the employer representatives to pressure the worker representatives towards a consensus. So, participate in Standards Advisory Committees. You can use this fact sheet to organize other workers to do so as well.

After the Advisory Committee process is complete, the staff prepares a regulatory package. The staff must follow certain legal guidelines including providing adequate Notice. That Notice will be sent to you if you attended the Advisory Committee. Click here to monitor the Agenda and all proposed regulations, variances, and other matters that will be taken up by the OSH Standards Board at a monthly meeting by visiting the Standards Board website.

How to Find a Specific Regulation or Law

To find California OSH laws and regulations, see the OSH Statutes found in the California Labor Code.

To perform a keyword search of the California Labor Code, click here, check the box for Labor Code and enter the specific section you wish to find.

Also see Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (Title 8 CCR). The Cal/OSHA section is particularly relevant.