WEST HOLLYWOOD—As the entire adult world knows by now, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) revealed yesterday that it had fined both LFP Video Group LLC and producer Mark Zane's Forsaken Pictures for alleged violations of the California Health Code—and so the group that had "dropped the dime" on the two companies, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), held a news conference about it this morning at 10:30 alongside the Hustler Hollywood store. And though AVN arrived about 10 minutes late at the location due to traffic, there appeared to be just two reporters covering the "event."
On hand were several familiar faces, including AHF president Michael Weinstein, Public Health Division Director Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Communications Director Ged Kenslea and attorney Brian Chase, all of whom expressed their satisfaction at the fact that the two companies had been fined—even though they grumbled at the amounts levied: $14,175 for Hustler and $12,150 for Forsaken. (The good news: they can pay by credit card if they want.)
"Something is better than nothing, but I don't know how long it takes Larry Flynt to make $14,000," Weinstein commented. "I suspect it's not very long, so we would want to see something sterner. We would like to see an order prohibiting use that shuts down Hustler productions, and of course, we want to see the city revoke the permits and we want to see the LA County Department of Health also step in and declare it a public health nuisance, but every little bit helps. It's now established that it's against the law in California to produce [adult movies] without condoms and we're looking forward to actions by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board this year on regulations specific to the industry. We will continue to lobby the city and the county to be more aggressive as well."
"The fine was for failing to have an adequate exposure prevention plan that included barrier protection for performers," Chase explained to attendees, which included adult performer Nikki Charm. "When they go in, they look for every workplace where you might be exposed to other potentially infectious material, like you heard about in the Cal/OSHA meetings. You have to have an exposure prevention plan, and in this case, their exposure prevention plan was found to be inadequate. The ramifications for the rest of the industry are, I'm pretty sure that most of the producers have an exposure prevention plan that doesn't call for protecting workers with condoms."
However, attendees at the press conference were also given a press kit consisting of reprints of Cal/OSHA's Citations and Notifications of Penalties levied on the two companies, a "News Advisory" from Kenslea, and most interestingly, a list of companies that had previously been tagged with Cal/OSHA citations and the amounts of the penalties levied.
According to that list, which was apparently prepared by AHF staffers, since 2007, nine adult companies and their subsidiaries or d/b/a's (not counting Hustler and Forsaken) have been fined by the state, generally for either an "inadequate illness and injury prevention plan" or no such plan at all, and/or "failure to have an adequate exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogen exposure" or, again, no such plan at all.
But what was particularly interesting was the amounts of the penalties levied, which vary widely. For example, in regard to the Darren James-related infections in 2004, production company Evasive Angles was fined $18,000 in 2006, while a related company, TTB Productions, was fined $25,000, though the handout questions whether the latter amount was ever paid, since it may have been covered in a settlement worked out bewtwen Evasive Angles and the state.
On the other hand, in 2007, another adult production company was fined just $5,940, although it was cited for having both an inadequate illness and injury prevention program and an inadequate exposure control plan, while yet another company was fined $10,800 in 2009 simply for failing to have an adequate exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogen exposure.
Those numbers raise important questions regarding how Cal/OSHA goes about figuring out how much it will fine companies it believes have violated its regulations, and while each case undoubtedly has its own unique characteristics, the fines levied appear to have only a slight relationship to the violations charged.
It's an issue that, hopefully, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health will clarify as the issue of healthcare in the adult movie industry continues to be discussed.