Porn Industry Requires Condom Use for Workers Safety, Workers Revolt
Republished with permission from ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
Earlier this month the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring condoms to be used in all permitted adult films shot within their city limits. It brings up many interesting workers compensation issues. After all, this requirement is for the health and safety of employees. Is it any different from requiring construction workers to wear a helmet? Road workers to wear a bright, orange vest?
In this commentaryon Salon.com porn performer, writer and director Lorelei Lee calls the ordinance well intentioned but ineffectual. She notes that the new law requires adult film production companies to pay a fee with permit applications. “Currently, condoms are used in the mainstream gay adult film industry (which includes only gay male films), while the heterosexual industry (which includes both lesbian and straight films) has used mandatory STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing as a health and safety precaution since the early 2000s,” she writes.
Lee writes that until May of 2011, the Adult Industry Medical Center, founded by a retired performer, ran a nationwide STI testing service and database that certified heterosexual performers as STI-free previous to their working on any production whereas the new ordinance is in response to a San Francisco-based nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation campaign along with other groups that have picked and boycotted companies which sell or show condom-free pornography.
One of the protest leaders called the testing service a “fig leaf” over the adult industry and backed the lawsuit that led to the organization's financial insolvency and shutdown last year, which left a vacuum in health and safety protections in the industry, Lee writes. “(He) seemed to hope that leaving performers without any kind of health protection would force legislators to mandate condom use,” she writes.
Lee writes that she became a condom-only performer in 2010 but had worked for eight years previously relying only on the testing service. “But during my time as a non-condom performer, I never once contracted an STI on set that condoms would have prevented, and truthfully, I'm not sure that condoms actually keep me safer than testing alone,” she writes.
She writes that performers have a mix of opinions as to whether they mind actually using condoms on set and some are even strongly opposed to using condoms at work, believing that they may actually increase likelihood of STI transmission.
Lee says what she is most opposed to is regulating condom use in the industry through government regulation. “Many of the people attracted to this industry are still those who don't care a lot about public opinion or about obeying authorities. In the case of a condom mandate tied to permits, many producers will simply shoot in Los Angeles without a permit. Others will move production outside of the city – to places like Las Vegas, San Francisco or Miami, where some companies are already established,” she writes, noting that perhaps that s what the city is after.
In effect, Lee writes, this legislation has made it more difficult for the industry to use the protections already in place with AIM's testing program. “We're also opposed to the squandering of AHF resources – resources that could be effectively used to help prevent and treat HIV and AIDS – on a political campaign against an industry whose health and safety regulations are already working. In the decade since AIM began the program of mandatory testing, six performers have tested positive for HIV, and only three of those have shown to be from on-set transmissions,” she writes. “That's three transmissions during the course of filming tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of scenes. There are no real statistics as to how this compares to transmission rates in the general population.”
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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