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Cal/OSHA’s reach for enterprise-wide violations expanded

Posted On: Sep. 29, 2021 1:52 PM CST


California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law a bill that creates two new categories of workplace safety violations under the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health: “enterprise-wide” and “egregious.”

S.B. 606, which passed both the state Senate and Assembly earlier this month, “creates a rebuttable presumption that a violation committed by an employer that has multiple worksites is enterprise-wide if the employer has a written policy or procedure that violates these provisions, except as specified, or the division has evidence of a pattern or practice of the same violation committed by that employer involving more than one of the employer’s worksites.”

The new law also authorizes Cal/OSHA to issue an enterprise-wide citation requiring enterprise-wide abatement if the employer fails to rebut such a presumption.

It also allows Cal/OSHA to issue a citation for an egregious violation, which it defines under a number of conditions, including that the employer, “intentionally, through conscious, voluntary action or inaction, made no reasonable effort to eliminate the known violation” and the violations “resulted in worker fatalities, a worksite catastrophe, or a large number of injuries or illnesses.” The law defines “catastrophe” as “inpatient hospitalization, regardless of duration, of three or more employees resulting from an injury, illness, or exposure caused by a workplace hazard or condition.”

The bill, with some exceptions, requires “each instance of an employee exposed to that violation to be considered a separate violation for purposes of the issuance of fines and penalties.”

The law also authorizes Cal/OSHA, in its investigation of the policies and practices of an employer or a related employer entity, to issue a subpoena if the business fails to promptly provide the requested information, and to enforce the subpoena if the business fails to provide the requested information “within a reasonable period of time.”

The new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.