Governor Brown Signs Legislation Increasing

Cal/OSHA Fines Cal/OSHA has increased its maximum fines for the first time in more than twenty years pursuant to legislation recently signed into law by Governor Brown. The changes nearly double the maximum fines and have brought California in line with the Federal standard. The increase in fines will not be isolated to this year, as fines will now be automatically increased annually based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Additionally, any employer who repeatedly violates any occupational safety or health standard, order, or special order, or Section 25910 of the Health and Safety Code, can no longer receive any adjustment of a penalty assessed based on the good faith or the history of previous violations. Such adjustments were previously commonplace. 

Specific increases are listed below (all increases refer to maximum fines, Cal/OSHA has discretion as to the amount of the fine when issuing the citation):

• Section 6427 of the Labor Code was amended to increase fines, not of a serious nature, from $7,000 for each violation to $12,471 for each violation.

• Section 6429 of the Labor Code has increased fines for repeat violations; raising the maximum fine from $70,000 to $124,709 for each violation. Additionally, Section 6429 also raised the minimum fine for repeat violations from $5,000 to $8,908.

• Section 6431 raised fines for posting or recordkeeping violations from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation.

Full text of the penalty section of the labor code may be found here.

California OSHA Emergency Action Plan elements revised; California now more consistent with Federal Standards

Revisions to General Safety Orders section 3220(b) became effective on June 5, 2017 and contain two minor changes for California employers with regards to Emergency Action Plans (EAP).

The first change requires that an employer’s EAP be more detailed in describing the type of evacuation that is to be performed, not just the route for an evacuation. The previous element of the EAP simply required that the plan contain, “[e]mergency escape procedures and emergency escape route assignments.” The current element of the EAP requires that, “[p] rocedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments,” be identified. 

The second change clarifies the language surrounding employees performing rescue or medical duties. Previously the only requirement in the EAP regarding rescue and medical duties was for employees that performed rescue and medical duties. The current version requires that the EAP contain, “[p]rocedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties. The use of the word and created potential gaps in plans as it is likely that employees may not be performing both rescue and medical duties, instead performing just rescue or medical duties. Plans must now include procedures to be followed by employees who perform either rescue or medical duties.

It is recommended that your EAP be in writing and updated to comply with the revised General Safety Orders section 3220. The full text of General Safety Orders section 3320 can be seen here. Please contact us if you would like further details regarding your Emergency Action Plan.

Deadline for Electronic Submission of OSHA 300 Log Records for Injuries and Illnesses Delayed

On May 12, 2016, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a rule entitled “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” which required certain employers subject to Federal OSHA regulations to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A to OSHA via electronic submission no later than July 1, 2017. On June 28, 2017, OSHA, via a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, has proposed a December 1, 2017 deadline for the electronic reporting; the electronic reporting system is scheduled to be available on August 1, 2017.Per the California Department of Industrial Relations, California employers are not required to follow the new requirements and will not be required to do so until “substantially similar” regulations go through formal rulemaking, which would culminate in adoption by the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations and approval by the Office of Administrative Law.

Cal/OSHA drafted a proposed rulemaking package to conform to the revised federal OSHA regulations by amending the California Code of Regulations, title 8, sections 14300.35, 14300.36, and 14300.41; these are currently under review with the State.

It is currently unclear what, if any, impact the delay by OSHA will have on the proposed amendments to the California Code.