Workplace Safety Consulting
If you conduct business in California, you already appreciate that the state’s economy ranks around the 8th largest in the world. Besides their global commerce presence, California is a leader in developing cutting edge environmental and workplace safety regulations. Not surprisingly, those regulations are often eventually adopted elsewhere – notably by the Federal government. So as California goes, eventually so goes the rest of the nation.
On the occupational safety and health side, California DOSH (Division of Occupational Safety and Health) administers workplace safety and health standards in California. DOSH is a division of the California Department of Industrial Relations. California OSHA is commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA and has received Federal approval to manage a State-level OSHA program. State agencies must enforce occupational health and safety regulations that at least meet Federal ones because those Federal laws are “preemptive” and override State laws.
Cal/OSHA is notable for adopting stricter requirements than Federal OSHA. Their Title 8 has a broad reach. Title 8 contains significant and specific workplace safety and health requirements that are not found in Federal OSHA’s 29 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). In fact, Cal/OSHA even has some jurisdiction over aspects as far ranging as blasting coyote holes to carnival rides.
But likely more applicable to your business, among many Title 8 requirements is that of the workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). This important aspect of a comprehensive workplace safety and health program requires employers to implement specific measures to protect employees such as: workplace inspection procedures; a process to accept and act on employee safety suggestions; formalized safety meetings; accident investigation; hazard identification; assessment and correction; employee training; recordkeeping and other aspects.
Cal/OSHA has specific IIPP requirements depending upon your industry sector. Due to industry push-back, Federal OSHA has not yet been successful in adopting the California IIPP model. However it remains a preferred adjunct to a workplace safety and health program.
Safety Considerations Unique to California
California’s regulatory environment is certainly more comprehensive than in other States in the USA. Cal/OSHA presence is notably significant. However there are and will be businesses in California as with elsewhere that fail to meet required occupational health and safety standards. In California as elsewhere, the construction industry is one sector known to regularly fail to meet OSHA standards. In particular, problems with lack of training and/or equipment used for fall protection, trenching, and respirator protection remain commonplace. But regardless, compliance naturally falls to the business – who must to implement effective and conforming workplace safety management.
The long and short of it is this: regardless the degree of active enforcement by regulatory agencies, the burden always remains on the business to comply. And where specific regulatory language may be lacking, OSHA still has an overarching “general duty clause” that compels employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.
Not unlike other State OSHA programs, Cal/OSHA has at times received middling marks from Federal OSHA the result of mandated program review. A common thread with State programs is a lack of sufficient funding, inability of State agencies to acquire suitable number of and sufficiently experienced personnel, and to keep personnel on staff where government wages typically fall short of private sector jobs. But Cal/OSHA has also implemented significant OSH (occupational safety and health) inspection and workplace safety programs well exceeding Federal programs. But regardless regulatory agency challenges, businesses still have a responsibility to provide a safe and health workplace of their employee regardless the degree of oversight and/or enforcement.
OSHA requirements may vary depending upon your business sector, number of employees you have and other factors. Cal/OSHA may visit your facilities based on several different reasons such as a complaint, a workplace injury or fatality, and/or due to your SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code. As with most all OSHA enforcement agencies, Cal/OSHA targets specific industries based on workplace exposures, hazard classification, incident rates and other factors. A Cal/OSHA visit to your business means open doors and their opportunity to investigate and audit your workplace. But it is better to be prepared and to be able to demonstrate compliance rather than face penalties and/or fines. That being said, Cal/OSHA offers consultative services to all businesses. They will send an inspector to your location to conduct a compliance audit and present their findings. Of course you must meet their timetable for compliance lest you face resulting fines. For businesses reluctant to invite Cal/OSHA in, we provide the same level of consultative service.
The best mechanism for improvement is to make changes before the hammer drops. When it comes to workplace safety and health, preemptive beneficial management is always superior to reactionary after-the-fact damage control. Employee well-being is critical to any company’s success. Therefore, invest properly in best practices for meeting workplace occupational safety and health (OSH). Look at compliance opportunity costs as an investment strategy; as insurance. But there is an art to developing and implementing a good OHS management system. Ask us to assess your current processes, goals and objectives and help you develop and implement improvements to yield less risk and greater productivity.
Workplace health and safety regulations and environmental regulations exist to protect well-being of workers as well as the environment in which we all live and work. California is a notable regulatory trend-setter and compliance with their far sighted and far-reaching regulations is a part of doing business in California. Besides the necessity of meeting regulatory requirements, as business practices have evolved and have incorporated regulatory compliance into a best practices model, supply chain requirements increasingly dictate the necessity of having effective management systems and meeting and/or exceeding regulatory requirements. For example, many businesses will only engage suppliers and vendors who can demonstrate a good regulatory compliance record and often then also verify certification with one or more EHS management systems. So besides obvious direct financial costs, failing to meet regulatory requirements can and does cancel business opportunities.
In our book, there is no substitute for compliance. Companies must do so regardless the degree of enforcement. That means that your management systems must be geared to naturally seek compliance and that your corporate culture is committed to meeting (or exceeding) occupational health and safety and environmental regulations. We are here to help you succeed by ensuring that you are able to meet regulatory requirements by seamlessly integrating those aspects into your management systems and corporate culture.