Here are a few of the recent developments affecting workplace safety and health law in California.

Updated Life Ring and Personal Flotation Device Regulation for Marine Terminals

In November 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) voted to adopt minor revisions to California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 3389, creating consistency with the federal standards for personal flotation devices. The Board heard the proposal at an October 18, 2018, meeting with no opposition from the Pacific Maritime Association.

Program for Preventing Repetitive-Stress Injuries in Hospitality Industry

In the summer of 2018, the California Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Program took effect, signifying the end of a long regulatory rulemaking process. The final regulations are available on Cal/OSHA’s website. The agency recently published a fact sheet that can serve as a useful and effective tool for continuing to roll out the program.

Electronic Reporting Requirements for Injuries and Illnesses

Employers in states regulated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are already required to electronically submit certain records of occupational injuries and illnesses. The electronic submission requirements, along with the incorporation of an existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses, were added to federal OSHA's recording and reporting regulations, which are found in the Code of Federal Regulations.

On November 1, 2018, the California Office of Administrative Law approved an emergency regulation regarding electronic reporting. This means that many employers in California were required to submit Form 300A data for calendar year 2017 by December 31, 2018.

There’s one caveat to this new regulation: the Board has until May 2019 to create and adopt a new regulation through the regular procedures for it to become permanent.

Extension of Time to Issue Citations for Violations

Existing rules require that Cal/OSHA enforce all occupational safety and health standards and that it issue citations for employer violations of recordkeeping requirements. Currently, Cal/OSHA is prohibited from issuing a citation more than six months after the occurrence of a violation. California Assembly Bill 2334 revises California Labor Code Section 6317 to provide that an “occurrence” continues until (a) it is corrected, (b) Cal/OSHA discovers the violation, or (c) the duty to comply with the requirement that was violated no longer exists. This new standard extends the time in which Cal/OSHA can issue a citation past the standard six months.