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06 Oct

October 2021: California Expands Cal/OSHA’s Scope of Enforcement

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in California.

What happened?
On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 606 into law.

What are the details?
The law, effective January 1, 2022, authorizes Cal/OSHA to issue citations for egregious violations of an occupational safety or health standard, order, special order, or regulation for each willful violation determined by Cal/OSHA. Additionally, they can count each employee affected by the violation as a separate violation for purposes of the issuance of fines and penalties. This would mean that the maximum penalty would be per violation, per employee.

A violation is deemed egregious under the bill if one or more of the following is true:

  • The employer, intentionally through voluntary action or inaction, made no reasonable effort to eliminate the known violation.
  • The violations resulted in worker fatalities, a worksite catastrophe, or a large number of injuries or illnesses.
  • The violations resulted in persistently high rates of worker injuries or illnesses.
  • The employer has an extensive history of prior violations of this section of the labor code.
  • The employer has intentionally disregarded their health and safety responsibilities.
  • The employer’s conduct, taken as a whole, amounts to clear bad faith in the performance of their duties to provide occupational safety to their employees.
  • The employer has committed a large number of violations to undermine the effectiveness of any safety and health program that might be in place.

The law has also introduced enterprise-wide violations, the law creates a presumption that an employer has committed an “enterprise-wide” violation, or a violation at multiple worksites if Cal/OSHA finds that either:

  • The employer has a written policy or procedure that violates section 25910 of the Health and Safety Code, any standard, rule, order or regulation; or
  • Cal/OSHA has evidence of a pattern or practice of the same violation or multiple violations committed by that employer involving more than one of the employer’s worksites.

There is no requirement that Cal/OSHA investigates other sites or observes violations in order to issue citations. This means that employers can be cited for worksites that have not been inspected, based entirely on a written policy at one of the employer’s worksites.

The law can be read here.

Articles on the law can be read here and here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the new law here and update their applicable policies and procedures in accordance with Cal/OSHA standards to stay in compliance with the new law.


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