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  • Turmoil in Cal/OSHA

    This week’s lead article in the Cal-OSHA Reporter was eye popping.

    Whenever a worker dies on the job, or whenever an Enforcement inspector thinks an accident has been caused by criminal misconduct, Cal/OSHA’s Bureau of Investigations (called BOI) is required to look for evidence of violations by the employer or supervisors of criminal statutes found in the Labor Code, not in the Penal Code. This mandate does not arise from just Cal/OSHA’s regulations. BOI’s charter was enshrined by the Legislature in California Labor Code section 6315(a).

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  • The Nine Rules of Cal/OSHA Inspections

    It’s no surprise, and we are not offended, that we have never been invited to sit in on any of Cal/OSHA’s training sessions. But over the combined four decades that we have been reviewing inspection files and representing employers at hearings we have been able to identify some of the main points that inspectors must be taking away from their classes on how to perform inspections, to conduct interviews and to write citations.
     

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  • Now Everybody's HIPP to It!

    The definition of "outdoor place of employment" in California's heat illness regulation [https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html] (known as HIPP to those hip to it) was, depending on your viewpoint, affirmed last week by the California Court of Appeals First Circuit to protect workers reasonably expected to be exposed to outdoor heat, or expanded exponentially to reach employers who would never otherwise consider themselves to have outdoor work places.
     

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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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