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Archive for 'Cal/OSHA Issues'

The Drought is Over for Cal/OSHA

This year’s budget will allow Cal/OSHA to fill 27 previously unfunded positions in Enforcement and Consultation. It also adds a whopping 15 new positions to the Process Safety Management Unit. Read further…

Here Comes the Sun da da da

Cal/OSHA launched its Heat Illness Prevention Program for the 2014 season this week. The goal of the program is to reduce cases of heat illness and to ensure compliance with California’s heat illness prevention standard, Title 8 California Code of Regulations section 3395. The launch brings questions about what exactly Cal/OSHA intends to enforce this season: The regulation as it is currently written? Or the regulation as Cal/OSHA proposes to change it?

According to the law, Cal/OSHA may only enforce Title 8 regulations as they are written. But, to be real, Cal/OSHA has a history of issuing citations based on how they wish the regulations had been written.

The list of proposed heat illness regulation changes will appear alarming to employers already working very hard to prevent heat illness and get some work done. From a compliance perspective, the most alarming change probably did not jump out at you. Here it is:

“Every employer shall establish, implement and maintain an effective Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Program”.

It sounds easy enough and the language is familiar; it comes from the IIPP section, Title 8 CCR section 3203.

However, it is Cal/OSHA’s golden ticket to citation in the event of any heat related illness – however unanticipated. This is true for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is that in the event of a heat related illness, Cal/OSHA will argue that obviously the employer’s program was not effective and / or adequately implemented.

Further, this language would give Cal/OSHA authority to issue citations to an employer for not following its own program (the implementation part), even for portions of the employer’s plan not mandated by 3395. This means that even if the employer is fully complaint with the written regulation, a citation could be issued if that employer did not following exactly provisions it added to its program with the intention of creating a workplace safer than even Cal/OSHA envisions. Well intentioned employers will suffer.

Don’t think good intentions will be punished? Here is an example:

An employer added acclimatization procedures to its written plan for new workers. Although its new employee (who reported recent experience in the field) was given the least strenuous job on the site, he suffered a heat related illness. Cal/OSHA issued a serious, accident-related citation to the employer for failing to provide the acclimatizing training called for in its written program, even though there is no (current) requirement in 3395 which describes how to acclimatize employees. Thus, Cal/OSHA sought to hang the employer on rope provided by the employer himself.

Although Cal/OSHA lost that case (despite an aggressive defense!), it continues to issue similar citations. And, Cal/OSHA is now moving to make future citations stick by amending the regulation.

Lessons here: Beware of seemingly benign language in a regulation. And, as with all written safety programs: Do what you say you are going to do.

Finally, we were going to provide you with a link to the proposed regulation, but cannot find one on Cal/OSHA’s website. If you wish to see the proposal, contact us and we’ll send you a copy.


Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste

Employer advocate Fred Walter discusses the effects of the brain drain at Cal/OSHA and asks why Cal/OSHA and management can’t work together to train new inspectors.

Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess Resigns

The California Department of Industrial Relations announced today that Ellen Widess has resigned effective immediately from her position as Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. No specific reason was given for her resignation. Widess, who became Chief in mid-April, 2011, served during a period of great stress.  During her tenure the number […]

Confined Space Special Emphasis Program Alert

Cal/OSHA defense attorney Fred Walter comments on Cal/OSHA’s new Special Emphasis Program on Confined Space.

Working With Your Workers’ Compensation Carrier’s Loss Control Consultants

Every business person knows to take advantage of the resources that are already available – particularly the ones that won’t cost you any more than you’re already paying. The challenge, sometimes, is in identifying what your resources are. Your workers’ compensation carrier’s bottom line interest is in avoiding paying benefits that result from workplace injuries. […]

Sea of Change at Cal/OSHA – Part 4

Pre-Citation Conference: Form 1BY Until now Cal/OSHA has refused to speak to employers before citations were issued, and then only within the first 10 calendar days thereafter unless an appeal is filed. Under AB 2774, Cal/OSHA must offer the employer the opportunity to meet and informally discuss the inspector’s findings and any proposed citations no […]