Mayor Tom Bradley Friday accused Gov. George Deukmejian of failing to enforce worker safety laws, calling California's record in that area "outrageous."
Speaking here to the California Conference of Machinists, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bradley assailed the California Occupational Health and Safety Organization (Cal-OSHA), the state agency charged with ensuring health and safety in the workplace.
"In California, the yearly number of preventative inspections has gone from 1,214 before George Deukmejian took office to an all-time low of 321 last year," Bradley said. In addition, in 1985, "no preventative inspections were carried out in 38 of 100 of the most hazardous industries," Bradley said, adding ". . . here is a Duke-nothing, say nothing, care nothing governor, and we're going to get rid of him."
Ron Rinaldi, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees Cal-OSHA, said Bradley was "misinformed," although Rinaldi did not dispute the inspection figures cited by Bradley and reported earlier in news stories.
Rinaldi said discretionary inspections "have declined, no doubt" because "we are conducting many more inspections than ever before in response to worker complaints." Overall, Rinaldi said, Cal-OSHA in 1985 "conducted more inspections and issued more citations than ever before."
Bradley said in his speech that 69 of the 188 job-related deaths attributed to safety law violations in 1984 "weren't even investigated for criminal negligence because the statute of limitations ran out. Does George Deukmejian care?"
Rinaldi said he believes that the number of uninvestigated deaths was "accurate or fairly accurate." Those cases were referred to Cal-OSHA attorneys, "and I suspect they decided there was not a likelihood for successful criminal prosecution. . . . That's the normal practice. I believe it's acceptable."
Rinaldi added:"The governor most certainly does care about this program;he's told me he expects me to enforce the law and we do."
And although he did not argue with figures cited by Bradley that indicated that work-related injuries have increased by 20%since 1983, Rinaldi said "employment has risen 30%since then. It's my belief injuries are much more frequent for people who are new in the work force."