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Health advocates, porn industry representatives and former performers gather in Oakland to discuss regulations

October 25, 2010 |  1:12 pm

Public health advocates, porn industry representatives and former performers gathered in Oakland on Monday to discuss workplace protection law and whether a regulation requiring condom use on adult film sets is necessary.

The meeting was the fourth held by the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health to hear public input about worker risks and the status of existing law.

The process was triggered by a petition filed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation late last year asking the agency to amend its regulations to directly address the adult film industry. Current law regarding blood-borne pathogens applies across industries -- including healthcare workers. While it does require employers take measures to protect workers -- including “barrier protection” -- a recent HIV-positive test for a Los Angeles area porn performer has catalyzed a discussion on the need for changes to the law and stricter enforcement in the lucrative industry.

Len Welsh, chief of California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, told attendees that the existing law takes longer to resolve in cases in which employers appeal than a direct regulation requiring condom use in filming would.

"It’s much simpler,” Welsh said. “You either did or you didn’t.”

While discussion indicated consensus was remote if even achievable, he promised those gathered that “everyone who participates will have been heard.”

Cal/OSHA has conducted about 30 inspections on porn sets since an HIV outbreak in 2004, in response to complaints about the lack of condom use, Cal/OSHA spokesman Krisann Chasarik said in an earlier interview. The largest fine, of $66,665, went to a company called Evasive Angles in 2006. The company was also cited in connection with the 2004 HIV outbreak in the industry, she said.

-- Lee Romney in Oakland

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