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  • CA Supreme Court OK's Civil Penalties for Employers Beyond Cal/OSHA Penalties

    The California Supreme Court has found that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act does not prevent the state from seeking civil penalties against employers for safety violations in addition to any penalties which Cal/OSHA may assess.

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  • Repeat Classifications: Fed/OSHA Can "Look Back" in Anger

    In an ideal world - or even a less imperfect one - employers could rely on a federal agency’s stated policies. But we now have more proof that employers who do so are bound to be disappointed.

    The Second Circuit of the federal Court of Appeals recently held that Fed/OSHA is not obligated to follow its own guidance to its inspectors in its Field Operations Manual (FOM, for you acronym phreaks). Specifically, Fed/OSHA was not bound by the guidelines for calculating the “look back” period for classifying a violation as repeat.

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  • Cal/OSHA's New Penalty Schedule: The Other Shoe Has Dropped

    Cal/OSHA's New Penalty Schedule, New Penalty Scheme

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  • The Past Is A Foreign Country

    While it’s nice to know we got our predictions of who Trump might appoint as Secretary of Labor partially right ( see our November 19, 2016 blog "Trump Won. So What?), we’re still on tenterhooks awaiting word on his appointee to the post of Asst. Sec’y Labor for OSHA.



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  • Will Repeats Become The New Normal

    Starting New Year’s Day, changes to the definition and scope of Cal/OSHA’s Repeat classification will change dramatically. But there will be some lag time between adoption and implementation. Time which should be spent bullet-proofing your safety program.

    Effective January 1, 2017 a citation can be classified as “Repeat” when the employer has “abated or indicated abatement of” an earlier violation for which a citation was issued, but the Division finds during a later inspection occurring within five years following the date that the earlier violation became final that the employer has committed a violation of ”a substantially similar” regulation anywhere in the state. The subsequent violation must be found to involve “essentially similar conditions or hazards.”

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  • The New High Hazard List: You May Be Surprised Who's Here

    Cal/OSHA has issued its revisions to the list of High Hazard industries for fiscal year 2016-2017 and it contains some big surprises. For example, the 2015-2016 list included 20 industries. The new list includes a breath-taking 42, an increase of over 100%. Twelve industries were dropped from the list but 35 were added.

    This means a huge increase in the number of California employers vulnerable to inspection by Cal/OSHA’s two High Hazard Unit offices. Even if you have a good safety program and your company’s workers’ compensation claim experience modification rate (called “ex-mod” for short) is below the mean for your industry (that is, less than 1.0), you will still be considered a High Hazard employer if your industry is on the list. 


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  • Trump Won. So What?

    The early money on who will be the new Secretary of Labor under President Trump is going to three people: Victoria Lipnic, a Republican appointed by President Obama to the EEOC and Asst. Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush; Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s); and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. 


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  • Abatement: Will This Conundrum Ever End?

    Earlier posts on California OSHA’s new abatement rules focused on the old wise rule and the changed dynamic and conflict brought about by the new draconian one.

    In case you couldn’t tell how we really feel about the new rules, let’s look at some “real world” issues California employers have had and the quandaries they’ve faced. 






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  • When is a Roof Just a Roof?

    It was not a matter of harmless semantics when Cal/OSHA threatened to shut a job down in Oakland during October, 2012. That job was a 12-story hospital near completion. The point of contention was access to and egress from the roof of the building.


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  • Cal/OSHA Confined by New Confined Space Rules

    Fed/OSHA is in a rush to accomplish all it can before the curtain closes on the Obama Administration. Among their last-minute adoptions are new mandatory rules for permit-required confined spaces (PRCS) on construction sites. And Cal/OSHA was only too eager to assist by swallowing them whole with little thought to how they would work in conjunction with the pre-existing PRCS rules found in the General Industry Safety Orders (GISO), the Telecommunication Orders, and the Electrical Orders. 

    The new construction rules are complex and have been in effect since December 30, 2015, They almost wholly address confined spaces on multi-employer work sites. Funny thing is, the GISO confined space regulations also proscribe procedures to be followed on multi-employer work sites.


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