San Francisco is first city to OK VDT safety ordinance

December 18, 1990|By San Francisco Chronicle

In a landmark decision, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted 7 to 4 to approve legislation that would regulate the use of video display terminals in the city.

If Mayor Art Agnos signs the bill, San Francisco would be the only city in the country with such worker-safety legislation.

After the board's vote yesterday, Mr. Agnos said in a prepared statement that he had not yet made up his mind about the VDT measure. It would take eight votes to override an Agnos veto.

"I plan to listen carefully to the concerns of both sides before making up my mind," he said.

The board had approved the legislation 8 to 1 on its first reading last week. Attempts to amend it before yesterday's crucial second reading were defeated 6 to 5.

Labor leaders were elated by the approval of the legislation, which they say is necessary to stem a growing number of wrist, hand and arm injuries and vision problems associated with prolonged work at computer terminals.

The vote was a defeat for business leaders, who predicted that the measure would prove so costly that it would force many companies to either leave town or go out of business.

The legislation gives employers two years to provide proper lighting, anti-glare screens and adjustable equipment and furniture for workers who spend four or more hours a day at VDTs. It also requires paid regular breaks from VDT work and the implementation of training programs on proper VDT use.

The measure also establishes an advisory committee that will make recommendations for amendments and monitor studies on possible radiation hazards from VDTs.

Business groups vowed to redouble their efforts to convince Mr. Agnos to veto the measure.

John Cammidge, vice president of employee relations at Bank of America, said "litigation [to block the measure] is going to be looked at very, very carefully."

Last year, former New York Mayor Ed Koch vetoed a similar measure, and a New York court overturned a Suffolk County VDT bill on the grounds that the county had no authority to regulate worker safety.

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