opinion

The CAL-OSHA Story

Diane Duke
In 2008, Cal-OSHA began to focus its attention on the adult entertainment industry. A handful of companies were visited by Cal-OSHA and were cited for everything from exposed electrical cords to expired fire extinguishers. Most companies are unaware that OSHA requires all businesses to have a workplace safety manual and workplace safety training. In response to the need for information about workplace safety and OSHA requirements, FSC developed a basic workplace safety manual for adult entertainment industry businesses to use as a guide in creating their own workplace safety manuals.

Later that same year, FSC held a roundtable at the Cybernet conference entitled “OSHA Oh Shit!” This roundtable was designed to stimulate conversation about recent Cal-OSHA inspections and citations, provide education and information on Cal-OSHA requirements and to identify industry needs about workplace safety and OSHA.

By the end of 2008, FSC began working with industry attorneys Paul Cambria, Jeffrey Douglas and Jerry Mooney, as well as Adult Industry Medical (AIM) CEO Sharon Mitchell to consider Cal-OSHA’s focus on the adult entertainment industry as it pertains to bloodborne pathogens. The group hired an OSHA specialist who had worked for a Fortune 75 company to create an industry appropriate bloodborne pathogen plan.

Early in 2009, Cal-OSHA visited some adult industry agents, demanding production schedules and attempting to identify agents as employers of performers. In the spring of 2009, LATATA, the adult industry licensed agent’s trade association, held a meeting which included some key producers, representatives from FSC and AIM and a number of industry attorneys. The need for an industry appropriate response was reconfirmed at that meeting and Derek Hay from LATATA and Evil Angel’s John Stagliano joined the group working on the plan.

In June, a performer (Patient Zero) was identified by AIM as testing positive for HIV. In a sensationalistic media move, the L.A. County Health Department released inaccurate and inflammatory information to the L.A. Times. Despite being told by a number of adult resources that the county’s numbers were inaccurate, the Times reporter ran the story. The L.A. Times and L.A. County were later required to retract the numbers but only after the damage had been done. Riding on the wave of misinformation and sensationalism, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) sensed an opportunity for media attention and began a rampage of media stunts from a lawsuit against L.A. County for not requiring condoms to an adult movie-watching press conference.

Cal-OSHA, in response to the sensationalistic media, sent numerous agents to AIM demanding the records of Patient Zero and all AIM patients. AIM went to court and filed an injunction blocking Cal-OSHA from obtaining patient records. Superior Court Judge Smith ordered that AIM is required to protect the medical privacy of all its patients. Judge Smith also ruled that “Cal-OSHA does not appear to be acting within its jurisdiction in subpoenaing patient-identifying information from AIM.”

In October FSC put on the Adult Production Best Practices Summit. The purpose of the summit was to understand the current threat to the adult entertainment industry, inform each stakeholder (i.e. producers, performers, agents etc.) as to their risk and role concerning these threats, inform stakeholders as to the protective efforts launched thus far, and discuss next steps in building a proactive defense. This defense supported the creation of an industry appropriate BBP plan as well as lobby efforts and as a last resort, the courts.

On Dec. 4, UCLA, supported by L.A. County and AHF held a “symposium” designed to create mandatory legislation for adult production including everything from mandatory condoms and testing to dental dams. FSC requested to attend and was turned down.

FSC has been in conversation with Alexandre Padilla, assistant professor of economics at Metropolitan State College of Denver and a research fellow at Reason Foundation, who had written on the industry previously. He had been watching the situation unfold and contacted FSC to add his expertise on the subject. Padilla wrote an editorial for Forbes magazine Dec. 7, which points out the flaws in the misguided logic of AHF and others attempting to regulate an industry they know nothing about.

On Dec. 8, armed with the Forbes article, neurosurgeon Aaron Aronow, First Amendment attorney Jeffrey Douglas, vice president of Wicked Pictures Joy King, performer Angelina Armani, FSC lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez and myself took the issue of Cal-OSHA regulations, mandatory condoms and mandatory testing to the California state capital. We spoke with a number of legislative offices, committee representatives and health and labor organizations. During our conversations, representatives of these organizations confirmed that no language has yet been submitted to the Legislature. Moreover, these representatives were encouraged by FSC’s strategy to create industry-appropriate guidelines for adult productions and protection for our performers.

On Dec. 14, AHF petitioned Cal-OSHA to require mandatory condoms in their regulations. If one goes by the clinical requirements that Cal-OSHA has been using for our industry, not only will condoms be required, but also goggles and gloves would be too.

On Dec. 16, FSC took the industry appropriate BBP Plan to the industry for review and comment. Our intent is to bring the final plan to Cal-OSHA and the legislature this month.

Special thanks to the following individuals for their significant input: Sharon Mitchell of AIM, Derek Hay of LA Direct Models and LATATA, John Stagliano of Evil Angel, Steven Scarborough of Hot House, industry attorneys Paul Cambria and Jeffrey Douglas, and attorney and OSHA specialist Karen Tynan.

No one knows better than our industry that sex sells. Clearly there are a few opportunistic government agencies and nonprofit organizations that see regulating the adult entertainment industry industry as their claim to fame. FSC, your trade association, is fighting back by telling the truth about our industry through strategic, professional methods designed to protect our industry and its performers for the long haul.

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