California's Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) has failed to pass a new regulation which would have forced pornographic actors and actresses to use condoms, dental dams, and goggles in order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
While there were problems with the proposed regulation which need to be rectified in order to have any chance of eventually passing, the spirit of the regulation is a profoundly good one: to protect workers' health.
Los Angeles County, where much of California's porn industry is located, has required porn actors to wear condoms since 2012, according to NPR. Cal/OSHA released a statement reiterating this fact after the vote failed, The Guardian reported.
The main problem with the proposed regulation was its ability to allow any state resident to sue over violations of the condom mandate, which would have been enforced on a statewide basis, The Washington Post reported. Actors and actresses expressed concern at the idea that they might be targeted by unscrupulous individuals looking to make a quick buck off of the porn industry.
There is also a warranted fear that regulating the industry to this extent could see the porn industry exit California over the next few years, as Los Angeles County has already seen porn production decline by 90 percent since the 2012 measure was passed, Slate reported.
This is not to say, however, that the porn industry's protestations that requiring condoms would kill off many otherwise viable projects is correct.
As Adam Cohen of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation noted, according to NPR: "That's 100 percent hyperbole. There are many studios that film exclusively with condoms and have stated publicly that their sales are fantastic."
Michael Weinstein, also of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, noted the idea that all porn filmed in California would become "surgical porn" is "pure fantasy," according to Slate.
The main point of the regulation is to limit the spread of STDs as much as possible within the industry, and this is something which the porn industry downplays. Although the industry requires actors and actresses to undergo lab tests every two weeks, HIV is still spreading and adult film performers remain at a higher risk of getting HIV, according to the CDC.
Additionally, a 2012 study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases found 28 percent of adult film workers tested positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea, NPR reported. According to Slate, a 2014 study from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health found a slightly smaller percentage of industry actors, 23.7 percent, who had one of the two diseases. Both statistics belie the porn industry's claim that it does enough testing to stop the spread of disease.
Cal/OSHA is revisiting the regulation now, and should make sure any future proposal protects both the health of adult film workers as well as their privacy, which the original regulation did not. But in order to protect the health of adult film workers and limit the spread of STDs within the industry, it is clear more needs to be done.