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Guide To Understanding & Complying With CALOSHA In 2023

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What is Cal/OSHA?

Cal/OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the state of California. It was established in 1973, shortly after the OSH Act of 1970. Instead of depending on the federal regulations of OSHA, California uses a state plan to regulate worker rights, health, and safety.

This state plan takes the form of the organization known as Cal/OSHA and operates independently from federal OSHA. However, it continues to be monitored by OSHA to ensure that it complies with the minimum requirements of a state plan.

California’s State Plan

OSHA permits states to have their own health and safety plan so long as it complies with OSHA Requirements as a bare minimum. State plans allow states to create additional safety requirements and measures, but never less than those mandated by federal OSHA. State plans have full jurisdiction over all public and private workplaces within their state, the only exceptions being federal workers. California specifically has unique working conditions and workplaces. To address the safety and health of its workers, California depends on a state plan to regulate workplace standards. It has cited more workplace hazards than any other state and conducted the most inspections of all states. For this reason, California has specific requirements for workers, including the level of training they need for the job.

Cal/OSHA Alignment

Complying with Cal/OSHA Requirements is just as important as complying with federal OSHA Requirements. As explained by the state plan, Cal/OSHA has full jurisdiction over all workplaces in the state. They take charge of all inspections, investigations, citations, and penalties throughout all workplaces in California.

The key to understanding Cal/OSHA lies simply in understanding their individual standards and requirements. Just like federal OSHA Requirements, Cal/OSHA Requirements exist to keep workers safe and healthy on the job. Their standards are more strict and comprehensive at times, but vary from industry to industry.

California Labor Laws

Like all states, California also has its own labor laws. These labor laws cover workers’ rights such as rest and meal breaks, minimum wage, overtime, benefits, etc. These rights apply to any worker that is hired, regardless of birthplace or legal status. CalifFornia’s labor laws are considered to be some of the most progressive in the country and exceed the benefits of federal labor laws.

Since the beginning of 2022, California labor code has made it impossible for employers to waive the rights of their employees for those of another state.

California Safety Concerns

California Safety Concerns Are Heightened Due to Population

California has the largest population of any state, with approximately 39 million people. The safety concerns of workers there are heightened due to the vast population, so Cal/OSHA exists to provide extra safety precautions.

Understanding some of the safety concerns can help you understand the specific precautions California takes to protect its workers.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program

An Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) is meant to create a plan in a workplace for reducing injury and illness. It is similar to the OSHA recommended Safety Management System (SMS) but is required by Cal/OSHA for all workplaces. The employer is expected to take charge in creating and implementing an IIPP in their workplace.

Unfortunately, proper implementation and maintenance of an IIPP is one of the most violated Cal/OSHA Requirements. California requires it in order to protect workers and assure alignment with safe work practices.


Heat Illness Prevention Program

There are many employees who work outdoors in California, where there are also extreme heat conditions. Because of this, all employees and employers in California are required to take a 40-minute course to prevent heat illness in alignment with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.

Such measures taught and implemented by the program include provision of fresh water and shaded areas. Employees are encouraged to drink a quart of water every hour and to take frequent breaks in the shaded areas provided.

Hazard Communication Standard

This standard is similar to the hazard communication standard of federal OSHA with the exception of safe water regulations and other additional regulations. Employees need information and training to be safe and healthy when handling chemicals and other hazardous substances.

Employers often fail to create required safety data sheets (SDSs) for their employees to train them on awareness and handling of hazards in their workplace. An SDS contains information regarding the chemicals and other hazardous substances in the workplace.

COVID-19 Prevention: Cal/OSHA’s ETS

Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) are temporary standards that were implemented with the rise of COVID-19 in order to prevent its spread in the workplace. Cal/OSHA has an Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard, but the ETS applies to most workers that are not covered by this standard.

COVID-19 ETS as established by federal OSHA withdrew the standard requiring vaccination and testing at the beginning of 2022 but continues to recommend it. Cal/OSHA still has the ETS for California in place until the end of the year 2022.

Cal/OSHA 10 and 30-Hour Courses

Cal/OSHA 10 and 30-hour courses are basic safety courses that prepare California employees for a wide variety of common hazards. These courses educate employees on safety regulations and standards associated with all workplaces and their rights as workers. Other important information from the courses includes handling emergencies, making reports, inspections, and recordkeeping of accidents.

These courses are not specific to any single workplace, so the hazards they cover may not be the kind you will face. However, they are beneficial for all employees no matter where they work. The most common industries that require employees to take a 10 or 30-hour course are construction and general industry.

Who Needs to Take 10 and 30-Hour Courses?

Any workplace under state jurisdiction of California will require its employees to receive training. It is up to the employer to decide on the level and depth of that training. In some cases, employers will make Cal/OSHA 10 or 30-hour training a requirement for their employees. The state of California does not, however, require its employees to receive 10 or 30-hour training.

The difference between the 10-hour and 30-hour courses is who they are intended for. 10-hour courses are intended for entry-level employees and give basic safety training and education. 30-hour courses are intended for supervisors and managers and cover their safety responsibilities and roles.

Anyone who works in construction or general industry should consider taking a 10-hour course even if they are not required to. These industries face a larger number of hazards and require more safety training than other industries and workplaces.

How Often do I Need to Take 10 and 30-Hour Courses?

After completing a 10 or 30-hour course, you will receive a certification card or wallet card as proof of having completed the course. These Cal/OSHA 10 and 30-hour cards do not expire. However, it is recommended that you receive refresher training every 3-5 years. Doing so will keep you up to date on new information and relearn other vital information.

What are the Consequences of Not Taking 10 and 30-hour Courses?

The employer that requires you to take a 10 or 30-hour course will dictate what the consequences are if you fail to take a required course. But if your workplace requires you to take a 10 or 30-hour course and you do not take it, there are only a few possible consequences.

Most likely, you would lose your job or be suspended from working until you complete the training. In the rare case that you are permitted to work anyway, you would put yourself and others around you at risk by not being prepared for the hazards and safety practices in your workplace.

If you fail to get a passing grade on the quizzes and exam associated with the course, you will have two more attempts to pass. If you fail all three attempts, then you will have to take the course all over again from the beginning.

Find out What to Do if CAL OSHA Shows Up in this article.

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