Cal/OSHA can issue citations for two new categories of violations
A new law (SB 606) significantly expands the enforcement power of Cal/OSHA by creating two new violation categories: “enterprise-wide” violations and “egregious” violations.
This bill creates a rebuttable presumption that a violation committed by an employer with multiple worksites is “enterprise-wide” if Cal/OSHA determines that the employer has a written policy or procedure that violates certain safety rules or Cal/OSHA has evidence of a pattern or practice of the same violation involving two or more of the employer’s worksites. The employer can rebut the presumption by showing that its other worksites have different, compliant written policies and procedures. If an employer fails to rebut the presumption, Cal/OSHA may issue an enterprise-wide citation requiring abatement. Enterprise-wide citations will carry the same penalties as repeated or willful citations, up to $134,334 per violation.
The bill gives authority to Cal/OSHA to issue a citation for an “egregious violation” if it believes that an employer has willfully and egregiously violated an occupational safety or health standard, order, special order or regulation based on at least one of seven factors defined in the statute (i.e., “the employer, intentionally, through conscious, voluntary action or inaction, made no reasonable effort to eliminate the known violation”). The conduct underlying the violation has to have occurred within five years of the citation. The bill requires each instance of an employee exposed to that violation to be considered a separate violation for the issuance of fines and penalties, which can add up very quickly for impacted employers.
California heat waves deadlier than reported
Extreme heat is one of the deadliest consequences of global warming. But in a state that prides itself as a climate leader, California chronically undercounts the death toll and has failed to address the growing threat of heat-related illness and death, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.
Between 2010 and 2019, the hottest decade on record, California’s official data from death certificates attributed 599 deaths to heat exposure. But an analysis by The Times found that the true toll is likely six times higher.