How CalOSHA Operates
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released an updated list of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety violations. Most violations on the list occur in construction industries, but the violations in total span almost all industries and all types of businesses.
California has its own version of OSHA, and it’s called CalOSHA. CalOSHA is affiliated with the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and, in some cases, the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). It reports findings to the DOL so that the DOL can closely monitor national trends. CalOSHA works in very specific ways, and it works well. An explanation of how the organization works and an illustration of how well the organization works are below.
CalOSHA receives violation notices in numerous ways. Employees call in problems, concerned visitors or customers call in observed violations, and various parties report accidents and job-related injuries. Also, occasionally, CalOSHA agents show up on premises for unannounced inspections. Regardless of how reports reach CalOSHA, CalOSHA has an hour from the points that reports are received to organize and prepare paperwork on received reports.
CalOSHA’s authority is close to absolute. Fighting the organization’s responses to violations is almost useless, and it is also very expensive. If a business does not have time in which to take safety precautions or to operate safely; is a small business; only uses contractors, temporary employees, and/or or part-time employees; or cannot afford to take safety measures, then the business is out of luck. No excuse is valid. Businesses must operate safely and in accordance to CalOSHA’s standards or they will suffer CalOSHA’s responses.
In most cases, CalOSHA sends official notifications of reported violations to businesses. Businesses are given time to make necessary corrections and to submit proof of made corrections to CalOSHA. If businesses have rectified situations and CalOSHA is satisfied then notice letters cease to reach the businesses. However, if businesses do not rectify situations and CalOSHA therefore has persisting concerns, second letters are sent. Second letters order corrections and also demand proof of made corrections.
In cases where second letters are sent, businesses must act swiftly. If businesses either do not act swiftly or fail to act in accordance with CalOSHA’s demands, representatives of CalOSHA make unannounced visits to the businesses' premises for inspections. When CalOSHA makes unannounced visits for inspections, businesses are almost always very unhappy.
Physical inspections by CalOSHA representatives often result in findings. On-the-spot corrections can be made to remedy offenses, and if businesses make these corrections then the businesses may receive points from CalOSHA. Complex findings result in the generation of reports, and these findings take time to remedy.
CalOSHA violations have differing costs. Minor violations can cost hundreds of dollars while serious violations can cost thousands of dollars. In the cases of complex findings, businesses must present proof that necessary corrections have been made. Inspectors sometimes reduce violation fines if businesses make concerted efforts to improve.
Multiple violations, especially serious violations, are not easily reduced. Businesses that offend multiple times must definitively demonstrate to CalOSHA that improvement has been made. Otherwise, no mercy is shown. Repeated violations earn businesses the title of REPEAT OFFENDER. Businesses that have REPEAT OFFENDER titles face high expenses and burdensome requirements. Fines grow perpetually if violations are not addressed, so it behooves business owners to take CalOSHA violations seriously.
Businesses can avoid CalOSHA safety violations by adequately preparing. Information that businesses need in order to operate safely is available. CalOSHA’s consultation office (Sacramento/Northern California: 1-800-963-9424) readily assists businesses and helps these businesses meet safety requirements for free!
One of the measures that businesses can take in order to prepare adequately to avoid CalOSHA violations is to have INJURY ILLNESS PREVENTION PROGRAMS (IIPPs), which should be tailored to individual businesses. This is noted under Senate Bill 198 (SB198) and also it is outlined in California Law Title 8, 8CCR3203 and California Labor Code 6401.7, which helps enforce CalOSHA’s rules and determinations.
All aspects of all businesses are specifically regulated. Knowing regulations is very important. If you don’t know which regulations affect your business, contact CalOSHA consultants. If you’re in construction, manufacturing, or agriculture then CalOSHA will monitor your business closely in order to find violations of HEAT ILLNESS, CONFINED SPACE ENTRY, LOCK OUT-TAG OUT and FALL PROTECTION SAFETY MEASURES. If you train any employees that you have to be compliant in these and other areas then you will help yourself stay violation free.
Some employers claim that their employees are trained to be compliant with CalOSHA standards, and they also describe procedures that their employees use in order to be compliant. If employers do this during inspections, CalOSHA inspectors nod their heads and say, “OK. Prove it.” If employers can’t prove it then they face violation notices. This is one reason among many why it is important for businesses to keep records of efforts to comply with CalOSHA standards.
Keeping records and abiding by CalOSHA rules are two of the best ways to stay off of CalOSHA’s radar. Staying off of CalOSHA’s radar is good, as it makes a business less likely to be noticed if and when a violation occurs. Businesses should operate safely and should always be prepared for inspections. These are two ways that businesses can weather any CalOSHA inquiry.
Basi Insurance Services, Inc. has a Safety Coordinator Section that assists clients with remaining CalOSHA compliant. We fully review business operations and other business details. Complete inspections are made and comprehensive safety programs are then developed. Safety procedure requirements are provided and necessary training is also provided. Ongoing safety visits are conducted in order to ensure that businesses are doing all that they can to keep employees safe and to be compliant with CalOSHA regulations.
Our goal is to keep businesses off of CalOSHA’s radar. In the events that CalOSHA inspectors visit the businesses that we serve and corrective actions are deemed necessary, we provide support in the performance of corrective actions. Providing support includes helping provide training, correct operational procedures, and prepare documentation. The support that we provide helps any business ensure that CalOSHA walks away happy.