CA Office Regulates Adult Film Industry Work Conditions, But Only if There’s a Complaint

07 Sep, 2018 Liz Carey


San Diego, CA ( – While porn may be legal in the state of California, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily regulated.

California’s Department of Industrial Relations is the only government department in the United States to have an office dedicated to enforcing regulations for the adult film industry. But as the adult film industry changes, little is changing about the enforcement of regulations surrounding the industry.

In 2012, California passed legislation that required adult film actors to use condoms during film shoots, and required companies to have a plan in place if there is an exposure to a blood borne pathogen. At the time, there was a move to more heavily regulate the industry, but ultimately, comments from the public, including adult film actors, said Frank Polizzi, spokesman for the California Department of Industrial Relations, resulted in no more strenuous regulations.

“Employers (in the adult film industry) must identify and evaluate workplace hazards and provide effective training to workers regarding those hazards. Adult film workers face the hazard of sexually transmitted infections and pathogens, so employers must comply with Cal/OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard,” Polizzi said in an interview with “The standard requires employers to protect the health of employees through ‘universal precautions,’ an approach to infection control that treats all blood and certain other human body fluids as if they contained bloodborne pathogens. Cal/OSHA requires employers in the adult film industry to provide and ensure the use of condoms and implement other measures to protect employees from sexually transmitted infections.”

But that doesn’t mean Cal/OSHA officials are regularly monitoring adult film sets, said Peter Riley, Regional Manager for Cal/OSHA responsible for enforcement of adult film industry regulations. 

“Cal/OSHA has never addressed the adult film set as an individual program inspection target,” Riley told “Most of our inspections are from complaints, or when an accident arises on set.”

Riley said his office gets on average three or four calls about the adult film industry a year.

Even as the industry is growing and changing, he said, the calls levels are remaining the same.

Industry analysts say adult film making is moving from the film set to home bedrooms, as women use their cellphones and laptops to stream material to subscribers. Couples also use their homes to shoot adult films of themselves for distribution. The ease of recording high quality video with equipment most people already have in their homes is making pornography a cottage industry, analysts said.

And that makes finding the businesses, and regulating them even harder, Riley said.

“If it’s a husband and wife filming in their own home, they would not be subject to those same regulations,” he said. “But if there is an employee, they fall under the state’s regulations.” 

Even if there is an employee involved, just finding the business is difficult without a complaint coming to his office he said. 

Actors involved in the adult film industry are typically considered by the film makers as contractors, he said, but if they are injured on the job — through contact with blood borne pathogens or other ways — they still may be covered under workers’ compensation.

“Studios almost always claim that an adult film employee is a contractor,” he said. “But usually on set there is an actual director, and if the direct provides the actor with direction and has control over when and how they work, then they may be considered employees under California statutes.” 

In those cases, it would be up to the film company to provide workers’ compensation coverage for any employee who is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do.


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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