Cal-Osha Compliance Is Easier Said Than Done

Cal-Osha Compliance has been required since 1991 and before. Cal-Osha is the government established Safety Police of California. Beginning in 1991 every employer who has one or more employees is required to implement a formally written safety program.

In layman terms, the Safety Program, otherwise known as your Illness and Injury Prevention Program must contain the following eight requirements to be considered Cal-Osha compliant.

The 8 Required Injury and Illness Prevention Program Elements Are:

  • Compliance
  • Communication
  • Hazard Assessment
  • Accident/Exposure Investigation
  • Hazard Correction
  • Training and Instruction
  • Record-keeping

Cal-Osha Compliance is something every employer with one or more employees must comply with all of the above requirements.

For years, employers who had less than ten employees were told that they did not have to document the following in writing

  • Safety Training
  • Periodic Inspections
  • The Abatement of Hazards and the inspections once the Hazard was abated
  • Cal-OSHA 300 log
  • All most all record keeping did not need to be documented

However, in the autumn of 2013 Cal-Osha decided that is was time to begin to enforce every aspect of the Illness and Injury Prevention Program otherwise known as your Companies Safety Program.

While this new direction is not being publicized, it is being enforced. One of our very own clients was turned into Cal-OSHA by an employee that had worked with this company for over twenty-five years.

Even though the company had less than ten employees and was not required to keep the following records, the company was required to produce all of these files and much more.

Exception: Employers having fewer than ten employees shall be permitted to communicate to and instruct employees orally in general safe work practices with specific instructions with respect to hazards unique to the employee job assignments as compliance with subsection (a)(3).

Cal-OSHA Compliance includes

  • procedures for identifying and evaluating workplace hazards
  • scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices.
  • Inspections shall be made to identify and evaluate hazards:

Records of the steps taken to implement and maintain the Program shall include:

Records of scheduled and periodic inspections required by subsection (a)(4) to identify unsafe conditions and work practices, including person(s) conducting the inspection, the unsafe conditions and work practices that have been identified and action is taken to correct the identified unsafe conditions and work practices. These records shall be maintained for at least one (1) year.

Exception: Employers with fewer than ten employees may elect to maintain the inspection records only until the hazard is corrected.

In spite of this provision for businesses, that enable them not to have to keep records, the following records were asked requested;

  • A Formally written Safety Program
  • Six years of Cal- Osha 300 logs
  • One year worth of Safety Training Topics (signed by all employees
  • A written Record of all facility inspections along with abatement records
  • A Heat Illness and Injury Prevention Program
  • Forms that documented employee discipline.

To make a long story short, every aspect of your formally written Safety Program must be documented. The workaround that the enforcement people use is that every employer must comply, and while it is true, there is some latitude for documentation everyone must still enforce the Illness and Injury Prevention Program which is required by Cal-Osha Compliance, even if you only have one employee.

Should an employer choose to follow the guidelines concerning the lack of documentation that are provided by Cal-Osha, the employer will be reminded that every employer must still comply with the eight standards of Title 8, and since the employer has chosen not to document what they are doing in writing than we have no choice but to interview your companies employees for the purpose of ensuring that you as an employer are providing a safe and healthy work environment all of this is making Cal-Osha Compliance much more difficult.

Given this new enforcement procedure, we are encouraging employers to make sure you can enforce in writing every aspect of your Cal-Osha required Safety Program. Not only is Cal-Osha enforcing every aspect of the IIPP/Safety Programs but fines are not at an all-time high.

So, in conclusion, make sure that your Safety Program is written in a way that will protect you and not hurt you. These days Cal-Osha would much rather employers take the time to hire a good safety consultant who knows what the standards are and how these standards are being enforced in the field.

One last bit of information in times past employers were able to abate a hazard which would allow them to get a discounted rate on the hazard because the employer had abated the hazard.

Today according to the Assembly Bill 1634 the following conditions must be adhered to or there will be no reward for the abatement of the fine. The abatement that we are talking about is up to 50% of the fine. The bill would authorize the division to grant such a modification only if the violation has been abated, as specified, or the signed statement and supporting evidence is received within ten working days after the end of the period fixed for abatement.

In addition to the above there is even more that employers must do:

Heat Illness Prevention Plan:

Every employer that has employees working in temperatures of 90 degrees or more must have a Heat Illness Prevention Program. The three main elements of this program are as follows;

  • Providing shade
  • Providing water
  • Providing Training on the signs and symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses
  • Providing Medical Care and Transportation in the event of an injury resulting from Heat Stress

Confined Space:

A confined space is an area that is enclosed and has very limited accessibility. Confined space is an area that is not meant for normal habitation. Storage tanks are a perfect example of what is to be considered a confined space.  You may have to enter the storage tank to do maintenance but it is not a normal place that workers will be in.

If you as an employer are working with confined space, you need to access the dangers that could be present, and then determine whether or not you must get a permit.  Cal-Osha in 2016 going forward will be looking out for this, so you need to be prepared.  Another example of a confined place could be entering into an attic. An open trench could also be considered to be confined space.

Cal-Osha Compliance is a challenge, we are here to help. California Employers Services understands the laws, and we know how California work laws and the standards are being enforced.