California businesses are required to meet the health and safety requirements of both OSHA, and the California Ergonomics Standard. Of the two, California law is much more strict, and potentially much more expensive.
The Federal OSHA standard is vague, “An employer has an obligation under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) to keep their workplace free from recognized serious hazards, including ergonomic hazards.” But the way in which these goals can be achieved is unclear.
Fortunately, the legal obligations California businesses must meet are online, and easily available to any business with a computer.
California Labor Code §6400 provides that every “employer shall furnish employment and a place of employment that are safe and healthful.”1 California Labor Code §6401 requires employers to do everything “reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.”2 In addition to these broad obligations, employers covered under Cal/OSHA must do the following:
- Establish, implement and maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program (IIPP).
- Establish or update operating procedures and communicate those procedures to employees.
- Immediately report any serious injury, illness or death of an employee, occurring in a place of employment or in connection with employment. “Immediately” here means “as soon as practically possible but not longer than 8 hours after the employer knows or with diligent inquiry would have known”3about the incident or death. In extenuating circumstances, employers must report no later than 24 hours after the incident.
- Inspect workplaces to identify and correct unsafe and hazardous conditions.
- Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses, unless exempted by the regulations.
- their rights and responsibilities.
- Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
- Prevent discrimination against employees who exercise their rights under Cal/OSHA.
- Post citations at or near work areas where an accident took place.
- Post, in a prominent location within the workplace, the Cal/OSHA poster, informing employees of
- Provide medical examinations and training when required by Cal/OSHA standards.
- Train employees.
- Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees about potential hazards.
Cal OSHA also provides employers with a consulting service that can audit their work environment and help optimize the safety and productivity of employees. Cal OSHA generally will not cite employers for violations their audits uncover as long as the business is willing to resolve the issues in a reasonable time period. For more information, contact Cal OSHA at one of the addresses below.
Cal/OSHA Consultation Services
Toll-free Number: 1-800-963-9424 Internet: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh
Cal/OSHA Consultation Services
On-site Assistance Program Area Offices
Northern California 2424 Arden Way, Suite 410 Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 263-0704
San Francisco Bay Area 1515 Clay Street, Suite 1103 Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 622-2891
Central Valley 1901 North Gateway Blvd., Suite 102 Fresno, CA 93727 (559) 454-1295
San Bernardino/ Inland Empire 464West 4th Street, Suite 339 San Bernardino,CA 92401 (909) 383-4567
San Fernando Valley/ Santa Barbara/NW L A Co. 6150 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 307 Van Nuys, CA 91401 (818) 901-5754
La Palma/LA/Orange 1 Centerpointe, Suite 150 La Palma, CA 90670 (714) 562-5525
San Diego/ Imperial 7575 Metropolitan Dr. Suite 204 San Diego, CA 92108 (619) 767-2060
Research and Education Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 574-2528
Voluntary Protection Program Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 622-1081