These new Cal-OSHA Enforcement Procedures will change The way that employers look at compliance significantly.
For years employers have been able to skate by without putting much effort in the area of providing a safe and healthy work environment. One of the main reasons for this was the fact that for many business owners the fines were manageable and could be absorbed into the cost of doing business.
Secondly, for the most part very few employers were being prosecuted.
Now, all of that is changing. Fines are increasing in general this year, and in addition to that the fines for failing to report a workplace in the proper time frame is also increase and by as much as 400%.
And now the anti has just been raised by the Department of Justice, as they move to increase the prosecution percentages for workplace safety violations. The DOJ has indicated its intent to be more aggressive in the pursuit of criminal enforcement of workplace safety violations under the endangerment provisions of those environmental laws in passing a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Labor that sets forth a plan for training prosecutors and investigators, in conjunction with coordinating and tracking criminal referrals, and sharing information and data between the two departments. The idea is that workplace safety violations uncovered during environmental investigations will be more easily and more frequently prosecuted criminally as felony environmental violations.
Now that I have your attention the questions becomes what employers can do, because that other shoe is beginning to drop. These new Cal-OSHA Enforcement Procedures are going to be stringent. The easiest thing to do is to get your company in compliance with the OSHA/ Cal-OSHA Standards.
Here is a brief list of some things that you can do.
- Develop a compliant safety program that will meet all eight of the Cal-OSHA Standards
- While it is important to make sure that the Illness and Injury Prevention Program meets the standards, it is even more important that you do what your Safety Program says that you will do. If you are not in compliance with your own Safety Program then you are not compliant period.
- Make sure that you are doing your Safety Training Topics on a regular basis. The dirtier that your employee’s hands get the more often you should be doing Safety Training Topics. Construction is required to do them every 10 days.
- Other businesses like Automotive Repair and Auto Body Shops should do them monthly. These illustrations will give you an idea of what you should do depending on your industry.
- Hire a good Safety Consulting Company. Cal-OSHA would much rather talk to them than you for the most part anyway. (Trust me on this)
- Make sure that you have a way for employees to report unsafe work conditions and then take those reports seriously. Abate the workplace hazards found and do the abatement process in a timely fashion.
- Make sure to document in writing everything that you are doing to comply….This is now a must do if you want to avoid the new Cal-OSHA Enforcement Procedures.
My experience has shown that companies that take compliance seriously have a much higher profit margin. I believe that one of the reasons this is true is because it takes a good disciplined employer or management team to develop and implement an effective Safety Program.
So if you are disciplined in that you will be disciplined in other areas that will directly increase the company’s profitability. As all employers should be able to see the new Cal-OSHA Enforcement Procedures will erase the affordability of non-compliance.