INDOOR HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION

Labor Code § 6720 (enacted by Senate Bill 1167) requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to develop a proposed regulation for minimizing heat-related illness among workers in indoor places of employment.

Current provisions include:

  • Application to all indoor work areas where the temperature is at least 80ºF when employees are present
  • An exception would not apply to professional administrative offices where the employer can demonstrate that the temperature does not exceed 85º
  • Measures required in this proposal may be integrated into the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Plan, the employer’s written Heat Illness Prevention Plan (Title 8, 3395), or maintained as a separate document
  • Cool-down areas – describes an area that is indoor, shielded from high radiant heat sources, open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling, and provided with a supply of cool drinking water.
  • “Indoor” – this term refers to a space, that is under a ceiling or overhead covering and is enclosed along its entire perimeter by walls, doors, windows, dividers, or other physical barriers.
  • A space inside a vehicle or equipment cab located outdoors is considered an “indoor” space only if the space is enclosed on all sides, regardless of whether the windows are opened or closed, and the employee performs his or her primary job duties while in that space.
  • Control Measures – shall be implemented when the temperature equals or exceeds 90ºF – the employer is required to assess environmental risk factors for heat illness. Certain engineering controls would include isolation of hot work processes, air conditioning, cooling fans, local exhaust ventilation, etc.
  • Close observation when a newly assigned employee begins work in an area where the temperature or heat index equals or exceeds 90ºF shall be closely monitored by a supervisor or designee for the first 14 days
  • It is unclear at this time if this regulation will apply to commercial or residential structures under construction, but not yet completed

REGULATORY ACTIONS EXPECTED IN 2018

Cal/OSHA is expected to take action on the following issues of interest/concern to the construction industry in 2018:

  • Occupational Exposure to Lead in Construction – the Division of Occupational Safety and Health has held several advisory meetings over the last few years and will be preparing a package to submit to the Standards Board for review and action. DOSH wants to lower the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to lead significantly.  The existing PEL is several decades old, and research from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) suggests serious health effects at much lower levels than when the existing standard was initially adopted.  As there is a potentially significant cost to industry, this proposed revision has triggered a Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis.  This analysis must receive approval from the California Department of Finance.  Once that is received, the package goes back to DOSH for revisions to the Initial Statement of Reasons, if appropriate.  The Division plans on submitting the draft package to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board in 2018.  Hearings will likely be scheduled after the Board has had an opportunity to review the package.
  • First Aid Kits – Following considerable debate, the employer community may see an update to the requirements for first aid kits – perhaps in 2018. The proposed text has been sent by the Division to the Standards Board.  Aside from bringing the contents current, the proposal will eliminate the requirement that a physician approve the kit.  Employers will be expected to evaluate the contents of their kits and ensure that adequate replacement supplies are available.

NEW INJURY AND ILLNESS PREVENTION PROGRAM ACCESS RULES

To address ongoing controversies of how and to whom to provide access to an employers’ IIPP, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board has released a draft revision to the standard.  A regulatory consultant petitioned the Board in 2017.  He filed the petition on behalf of employer groups who became concerned about organized labor’s attempts through the legislature to create access rules.  Interestingly, Section 3203 does not address an employee’s right to access their employer’s IIPP.

The draft would give employers 15 days to provide an IIPP, limits access to information required for compliance with the IIPP and requires that authorized representatives must be authorized in writing by the employee on an employer-provided form.

 

REVISED CIVIL PENALTIES FOR CAL/OSHA VIOLATIONS IN EFFECT

Following action by federal OSHA (prompted by congressional action), Cal/OSHA adopted a revised penalty structure effective September 14, 2017.

  • Regulatory violations – for permit, posting, recordkeeping and reporting requirements – a maximum of $12,471 although a minimum penalty of $500 will be proposed. Adjustments to the penalty will be made for size, good faith, and history.
  • General violations – for a violation which is specifically determined not to be of a serious nature, but has a relationship to occupational safety and health of employees – a maximum of $12,471 – adjustments to a penalty may be made for severity, extent and likelihood
  • Serious violations – exists if Cal/OSHA demonstrates that there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result – a maximum penalty of $25,000 may be proposed with an initial base penalty of $18,000 – also subject to adjustment factors
  • Repeat violation – exists where an employer has abated or indicated abatement of an earlier violation occurring within the state for which a violation was issued, and upon a later inspection, Cal/OSHA finds a violation of a substantially similar requirement – on the first occasion of a repeat violation, the initial penalty shall be multiplied by two; the second repeat carries a multiplication factor of four; and the third occasion will carry a multiplication factor of ten. The resultant penalty shall not exceed $124,709
  • Willful violation – exists where evidence shows that the employer committed an intentional and knowing, as contrasted with inadvertent, violation, and the employer is conscious of the fact that what they are doing constitutes a violation of a safety law – such violations will carry a proposed penalty of not less than $5,000 nor more than $124,709

CAL/OSHA CITES SIX EMPLOYERS OVER $240,000 FOR EXPOSING WORKERS TO VALLEY FEVER

Cal/OSHA cited six employers $241,950 for workplace safety and health violations following reports that workers contracted Valley Fever at a solar project construction site in Monterey County.

The employers at the California Flats Solar Project in Cholame Hills were cited for serious violations that included failure to control employee exposure to contaminated dust at the worksite, and failure to provide and ensure use of appropriate respiratory equipment.

Valley Fever is caused by microscopic fungus known as Coccidioides immitis, lives in the top two to 12 inches of soil in many parts of the state.  When soil is disturbed by digging, driving, or high winds, fungal spores can become airborne and may be inhaled by workers.  It is prevalent in the Central Valley and the Central Coast of California.  Exposures can produce flu-like symptoms and in severe cases can cause death.

Assembly member Rudy Salas from the Bakersfield area has introduced several legislative bills that would address several aspects of Valley Fever.

DOCUMENT REQUEST DURING A CAL/OSHA INSPECTION

Should a Cal/OSHA inspector visit your jobsite you will very likely be asked for one or more documents regarding your safety program.  Following is a link to the document request form:  www.dir.ca.gov/DOSHPol/P&PC-1AY.pdf

Please make sure that if you receive this form that you respond by the date noted at the top of the form.  If you are unable to produce one or more of the requested documents, please contact the inspector and explain your situation