Former Cal/OSHA Chief Stranberg Dies At 83

Robert Stranberg, the former chief of California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) who played a pivotal role in overseeing the division as it was defunded and later refunded during the late 1980s, passed away on Feb. 9 in Edina, Minn. He was 83.

Stranberg, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force, began his service with the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) in December 1974. He was promoted several times until he was eventually appointed as the chief of DOSH in July 1987.

It was in this capacity in which Stranberg was asked to withdraw Cal/OSHA from private sector enforcement when then-California Gov. George Deukmejian defunded the division. Then, in May 1989, funding for Cal/OSHA was reinstated and Stranberg oversaw Cal/OSHA's reengagement process.

In October 1991, Stranberg was appointed chief deputy director of DIR by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. He oversaw workers' compensation reforms, increased labor law enforcement and created a multilingual task force to assist Cal/OSHA in communicating with California's diverse work force. Stranberg retired in December 1994.

Ed Callanan, Stranberg's assistant while he was Cal/OSHA chief, told OccupationalHazards.com that Stranberg was one of the Cal/OSHA heads who made the most impact on the division.

"He was a delight to work for and he was very intelligent," said Callanan of Stranberg. "He had great ideas as the division was being reorganized and we were fortunate to have him there during that time."

Callanan said Stranberg was able to call back many of the division's employees who had left when the agency was defunded.

John Rea, DIR's acting director, said that Stranberg played an important role in helping DIR improve the working conditions of many of California's workers.

"Bob was a valued leader and is honored by DIR for his efforts and dedication to his work," said Rea. "He will be greatly missed by those who had the privilege of working with him."

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