Surprise veto stirs the pot on California law

California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) early last month vetoed what would have been the nation’s first ergonomic standards, sending the proposal back for revisions and amplifying a firestorm of controversy.

In its 18-page notice, the OAL rejected the proposal by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA), citing imprecise language the administrative law office said would make the proposed standards impossible to enforce. The OAL particularly noted that such issues as what constitutes "identical" activities and whether the injuries must occur at the same workplace were left unanswered.

The veto throws a stumbling block in the path of what was expected to be a rubber stamp process of approval for the standards and will likely delay implementation by up to six months. When the standards were approved by Cal/OSHA in November, the only serious obstacles expected were lawsuits by employers and union groups.