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Cal/OSHA Regulations in 2022: What You Need to Know

Many major new OSHA regulations have arrived after the pandemic forced lawmakers to take a deeper look at labor protections. OSHA training is always important. It is especially key during major shifts for health and safety laws.

There are already hundreds of federal OSHA regulations employees and employers need to know. Additionally, 28 states have their own OSHA state programs for private, state, and local workers.

Do you work or employ people in California? Cal/OSHA regulations are some of the most comprehensive in the U.S. They require even higher standards than federal regulations.

If you're searching for a guide to California's current regulations and Cal/OSHA updates for 2022, look no further. We have all the information you need to know.

Current Cal/OSHA Regulatory Environment

Federal OSHA approves and evaluates state programs. However, Cal/OSHA regulations supersede federal OSHA requirements.

Cal/OSHA requirements are both stricter and broader. They have higher standards that include more safety and labor issues than currently covered at the federal level.

California state employers will not be in compliance if they only meet federal OSHA requirements. They must also adhere to Cal/OSHA's standards, which focus on employee labor rights.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)

California laws mandate all workplaces must be healthy and safe for employees. To comply with this standard, every workplace must have an IIPP in place.

There are several IIPP requirements for employers, including:

  1. The IIPP must designate a central authority with responsibility for the program.
  2. Employees must systematically comply with health and safety standards.
  3. Communication must be systematic and understandable.
  4. Proper procedures for identifying, evaluating, investigating, and correcting hazards must be in place.
  5. Employees must have IIPP training and access.
  6. The IIPP must maintain recordkeeping and documentation.

Employees have the right to file confidential complaints if their employers violate IIPP.

Filing Complaints with Cal/OSHA

Cal/OSHA allows several avenues to file complaints:

  • By phone: Local district office or mainline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA)
  • Email or fax: Local district office
  • Online: Complete the online OSHA Complaint form
  • Paper Mail: Fill out and mail printable version to your local district office
  • In-person: Visit your local district office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Cal/OSHA asks for several key details about the reported violation. These include:

  • Specific nature of the hazard
  • When, where, and how the hazard takes place
  • Who works near and is exposed to the hazard

It's best to include as much precise and detailed information as possible. This will aid Cal/OSHA's investigation into the complaint and any resulting inspections.

Cal/OSHA Investigation and Inspections

The Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch will investigate complaints. Violations may require an on-site inspection and employee interviews if necessary.

Cal/OSHA usually deals with violations by issuing citations. However, recent Cal/OSHA updates include expanded penalties for noncompliance.

Cal/OSHA Regulations for Employee Rights

Enforcement of Cal/OSHA standards includes safeguarding employee rights. As protected by law, employees have the rights to:

  • Refuse Hazardous Work
  • Protection Against Retaliation
  • Access Documents and Record

Violations of employee protections can be reported to Cal/OSHA and/or a Labor Commissioner office as applicable.

Cal/OSHA Updates for 2022

Cal/OSHA regulations primarily expanded with the passage of two new laws, SB 606 and AB 654. COVID requirements under Cal/OSHA remain changeable as health guidelines continue to evolve.

SB 606

SB 606 was not directly written for COVID protocols. However, it was inspired by the need to hold employers accountable for unsafe workplace practices during the pandemic.

This new law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. It greatly expanded Cal/OSHA's enforcement capabilities for non-compliance.

This includes additional violation categories and violation penalties. It also made reporting employer retaliation an easier process.

Compliance and Enforcement

SB 606 added two new categories of violations:

  • Enterprise-wide violations
  • Egregious violations

Enterprise-wide applies to employers who have multiple work-sites. Systematic or written violations of Cal/OSHA regulations found on more than one site are enterprise-wide.

This means employers must ensure their written health and safety programs are compliant per site. Applicable programs include the IIPP, COVID-19 Prevention Plans, and Emergency Action Plans.

An egregious violation applies to several qualifiers. These include:

  1. The employer intentionally made no effort to correct any violations.
  2. Violations resulted in death, hospitalizations, and/or widespread injury and illness.
  3. The employer has previous violation history.
  4. The employer intentionally neglected their responsibilities.
  5. The employer demonstrated bad faith conduct.
  6. The employer undermined safety and health programs through numerous violations.

Cal/OSHA updates also treat each exposure as a separate violation now. This means one hazard can result in multiple violations.

For example, an employer may let their employees be exposed to COVID during work shifts. Every shift that resulted in exposure will now be its own violation per employee.

Penalties for Noncompliant Employers

SB 606 also expanded the legal penalties Cal/OSHA can use for violations. These include issuing:

  • Enterprise-wide citations
  • Investigative subpoenas
  • Operational injunctions
  • Restraining orders
  • Higher maximum fines

Cal/OSHA can also use its new cumulative violation system for issuing penalties. This means each separate incident of the same violation is subject to its own penalty.

AB 654

AB 654 clarifies an employer's responsibilities for COVID notification and reporting. It is an update of AB 685.

Cal/OSHA COVID Regulations

Cal/OSHA regulations for COVID remain largely in place. Most changes include minor adjustments to existing requirements.

The Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation was updated on Jan. 14, 2022. It featured revisions for return-to-work requirements and face-covering guidance.

Cal/OSHA also updated their official FAQs on Jan. 6, 2022. These updates reflected new recommendations from the California Department of Public Health.

Keeping Up With Compliance Through OSHA Training Courses

Federal and state OSHA requirements are numerous. They also change continuously with new health and safety guidelines.

Cal/OSHA regulations were already rigorous towards employee rights. The new Cal/OSHA updates have expanded enforcement and penalties for violations even more.

Don't get caught out of compliance. We offer OSHA safety training courses for your worksite-specific regulations. Check out our training resources or create a course login to learn more!

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