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Judge Upholds Cal/OSHA Citations Against San Francisco Porn Maker for Unprotected Sex

Feb. 6, 2014
An administrative law judge has affirmed two serious citations that Cal/OSHA issued to a San Francisco adult-film company for making pornographic videos featuring unprotected gay sex.  The ruling is a victory for Cal/OSHA, as the judge ruled that California’s adult-entertainment industry is subject to state regulations covering worker exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

An administrative law judge has affirmed two serious citations that Cal/OSHA issued to a San Francisco adult-film company for making pornographic videos featuring unprotected gay sex. 

Although the judge reduced the total fines against Treasure Island Media from $20,485 to $8,670, the ruling is a victory for Cal/OSHA nonetheless, as the judge ruled that California’s adult-entertainment industry is subject to state regulations covering worker exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, hailed the ruling as “a milestone for workplace safety in California.” The foundation has filed safety complaints against Treasure Island Media and a number of other California-based porn makers.

“This Cal/OSHA ruling against Treasure Island is a milestone in three important ways,” Weinstein said. “One, the ruling unequivocally states that the adult-film performers are employees, not independent contractors, as the industry regularly asserts, and as such are indeed covered under OSHA workplace-safety statutes.

“Two, it was the first time an adult-film company cited has actually gone to a full-trial for appeal with Cal/OSHA instead of settling, paying – or ignoring – its citations. And three, it is the first time an adult-film company has also lost in this precedent-setting court ruling.”

Several of the safety citations against Treasure Island Media stemmed from one 2009 film that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted to Cal/OSHA as evidence in February 2013. The film depicts unprotected sex involving several men, as well as scenes depicting one of the men receiving the previously collected semen of more than 1,000 men into one of his body orifices, according to the foundation.

“Treasure Island has been quite outspoken in its opposition to condom use in the company’s films,” Weinstein said. “That is partly why we filed workplace health and safety complaints with Cal/OSHA: to press for the enforcement of existing state and local workplace regulatory guidelines [that] require the use of condoms in their – and all – adult films produced in California.”

The Jan. 6 decision by Administrative Law Judge Mary Dryovage of California’s Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board affirmed two series citations against Treasure Island Media. The first serious citation found that Treasure Island lacked an exposure-control plan to limit employee contact with semen and other infectious bodily materials during filming and set cleaning. The second cited the failure to observe universal precautions during film production and failure to institute engineering and work-practice controls including the use of barrier protection such as condoms.

Dryovage, however, reduced the total fines for the two aforementioned citations from $18,000 to $6,185, noting that the two violations could be “abated by the same actions, because instituting engineering and work-practice controls to eliminate or minimize contact with blood and semen includes the use of barrier protection such as condoms.”

Cal/OSHA is cracking down on other California porn makers for similar safety violations. Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum asserted that the Treasure Island ruling “sends a message to the adult-film industry that Cal/OSHA will continue to enforce the bloodborne-pathogens standard and other regulations in this industry, and that those citations are likely to be upheld.”

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