This is a very interesting question, especially when the general public is told that Cal-OSHA seems to not have enough agents and enforcement people available to put in the field.

I think that after reading this note you will see that the truth is, that OSHA, can, in reality, cover the entire state quite nicely.  This article will help you to see what I have been seeing for quite some time, namely that while we are told there are no resources, businesses and employers continue to get inspected and fined.

First of all, Cal-OSHA has divided the state into (4) regions.  These regions are as follows.

  • Region One: San Francisco Bay Area.  In this region, there are 38 CHSO’s aka Certified Health & Safety Official.
  • Region Two Northern California and Central Valley.  This region also has 38 CHSO’s  
  • Region Three Covers San Diego, Santa Ana, San Bernardino.  Region Three has 44 CHSO’s
  • Region Four Covers Los Angeles, Ventura the number of CHSO’s for this area is 34, with (10) positions unfilled at the time of this writing.

Cal-OSHA also has divisions, these divisions are as follows

  • High Hazard Unit which is manned by (15) CHSO’s
  • Labor Enforcement Task Force this unit has (9) CHSO’s
  • Process Safety Management has (20) CHSO’s

So by the numbers, it does not seem that Cal-OSHA can really cover the state since there is only about 200 or so Certified Safety & Health Officials.  On the other hand, 200 enforcement officers walking in an organized fashion can quite easily cover the state.

If each enforcement officer can make only 3 visits each day, you now have 600 businesses being called on in a day, 3,000 business being called on in a week, and 12,000 business being called on in a month.  In a year that means 150,000 business owners have the potential of a Cal-OSHA visit.

Another thing to consider is that Cal OSHA can move the troops around to cover an entire region or an entire industry.  They can pick and choose what kind of violations they want to target.  What this means is that they can target Automotive Repair Shops in San Diego, and target Machine Shops in Sacramento.

There are so many different ways to use the troops that no employer should even consider taking them for granted.  They do have the manpower to manage the state, and if you are not in compliance there is a decent chance that you will get busted.  Not only that but effective November 2016 the fines are going to be increased by 80%.

Now is the time to protect you and your business

The best way that you can protect your business is to hire a good Cal-OSHA CONSULTANT.  A good Cal-OSHA Consultant not only knows what the laws are but how they are being enforced in the field.  CES Today meets those requirements, and if you would like us to do a Free Cal-OSHA Mock Inspection we will be happy to do that for you.

If you don’t want to go the route of a Safety Consultant, then you need to make sure that you are meeting the necessary requirements.  You should have a good Safety Program/Illness and Injury Prevention Program that meets all eight of the Safety Requirements.

Everything must be documented in writing.

A formally written Safety Program/Illness and Injury Prevention Program may not be the only written program that you will need in order to comply. For example, if you have employees that are working in 85 degrees or more of heat you must have a Heat Illness Prevention Program.  If you have employees that are working in confined spaces, you must have a written program that will address the hazards associated with confined spaces.

If you have employees that are using forklifts you must have every driver trained and certified to drive that forklift.

What will Cal-OSHA be looking for should they come to my business?  

This is a very brief list but will at least give you a general idea.

  1. Documentation of two or more years of Safety Training Topics
  2. They will inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure that you are inspecting them monthly.  They do this by inspecting the back of the card to make sure you have initialed the back of the card and that the arrow is in the green.
  3. They will be asking for at least (3) years of your Cal-OSHA 300 logs.  These logs must be posted from February to April every year.
  4. They will inspect all written program that pertains to our business to make sure that you have them and that you are also doing what you say in those programs.
  5. They will do a complete walk-thru of your business unless they are coming for a specific reason.  If they are coming for a specific reason, then they may only inspect that area of your business.

What happens if I get fined?

Should you be fined the best thing that you can do is appeal the fine.  Even if you are in violation it is still wise to appeal.  The reason for the appeal is that most of the time you can at least get the fine reduced.  If you are going to appeal it is in your best interest to hire someone to represent you.  This does not have to be an attorney unless there is a fatality or a serious injury.  In those cases, I would recommend that you get an attorney to help you.

Final thoughts on the matter.  You must remember that every enforcement officer has the right to rate the fine as either a serious or a general or a willful, or a repeat offense.  If the fine is just a general, you may not want to mess with an appeal but if it is serious or above you, you should most definitely appeal it.

If an employee gets hurt and you are found to be a contributor to the accident because you are not following your own safety procedures or simply not in compliance, you may have opened yourself to a civil suit once the Cal-OSHA investigation is done.

Cal-OSHA is also doing underground economy sweeps, should you be involved in one of those three different agencies will show up at your door at the same time.  The three agencies are Department of Labor, Cal-OSHA, and EPA.  

Each of these agencies will be looking for something different.  The Department of Labor will be looking at your payroll records, Cal-OSHA, will be looking at your safety procedures, and the EPA will be checking for anything to do with hazardous chemicals, including the new Safety Data Sheets, formally call Material Data Sheet.

Our motto at CES Today is quite simple THINK SAFE AND BE SAFE.