Cal/OSHA Update: The Six Safety Issues You Should be Familiar With

This quarter, familiarize yourself with some safety issues that could directly affect you and your employees. Below are six current safety concerns like heat effects, respirable crystalline silica, and other regulations you should be aware of.

RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA

On October 23, 2017, the revised Respirable Crystalline Silica standard became effective in California and is now enforceable by Cal/OSHA.

There are numerous requirements for employers whose employees are exposed to silica-containing materials.  Safety consultant Chris Lee prepared a Silica Regulation Update containing background information, key provisions of the revised regulation, a discussion about Table 1 contained in the regulation that addresses eighteen common construction tasks and how to protect workers performing those tasks, a review of alternative exposure control methods, a review of the required elements of a Written Exposure Control Plan, and links to four resources for employers.

HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION

Employers are encouraged to review their Heat Illness Prevention Programs as this remains a high priority for enforcement officers.  The requirements under the regulation can be accessed at:  www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html; and, a model program is available for review at:  www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ESPHIP.pdf

Of the approximate 7,800 inspections conducted last year, fully 3,038 involved HIP.  A total of 1,528 inspections were in the construction industry, and a total penalty amount for all sectors of $1.4 million was assessed.

INDOOR HEAT

Senate Bill 1167 was signed into law which requires Cal/OSHA to propose for review and adoption by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board a new standard that minimizes heat-illness and injury among employees working in indoor places of employment by January 1, 2019.

The standard is to be based on environmental temperatures, work activity levels, and §It is still unclear as to whether commercial or residential buildings under construction are covered by the proposed standard.  It is possible that construction trailers, corporation yard buildings and other construction structures will be covered.

Safety Consultant Chris Lee is monitoring the development of this standard and will have further updates as developments occur.

NEW CAL/OSHA PENALTY LEVELS

As a result of federal legislation directing federal departments and agencies to adjust their respective penalty tables to ensure that they are adjusted for inflation, federal grantee organizations such as Cal/OSHA were required to follow suit.

Accordingly, the new penalties under Cal/OSHA are as follows;

  • Regulatory/general citations:  maximum will increase from $7000 to $12,471
  • Serious citations:  no change as California’s cap of $25,000 is still above the federal law
  • Willful and Repeat citations:  raised from $70,000 to $124,709.

Needless to say, these new penalty levels are a strong incentive for employers to ensure their safety and health programs are current, and fully enforced at the job site.

REFINERY SAFETY AND HEALTH

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board on May 18, 2017, approved a new regulation to strengthen workplace safety and health at oil refineries throughout California.  The standard became effective on October 1, 2017.

The new regulation, Title 8, §1589.1 “Process Safety Management for Petroleum Refineries” provides a framework for anticipating, preventing, and responding to hazards at refineries.

One of the provisions under “Contractor responsibilities” requires that contractors shall ensure that it meets requirements of Health and Safety Code Section 25536.7, and that all employees are effectively trained in a 20-hour course covering the following;

  • Refinery Safety Overview (8 hours)
  • Basic Principles of Petroleum Refining (4 hours)
  • Craft-Specific Safety Training (8 hours)

All contractor employees working in refineries in California must have this training not later than January 1, 2018.

For reference and additional information, the standard can be accessed at:  www.dir.ca.gov/OSHSB/documents/Process-Safety-Management-for-Petroleum-Refineries-txtbdconsider.pdf

CRANE OPERATOR CERTIFICATION

Federal OSHA has extended the deadline for crane operator certification from 11/17/17 to 11/17/18.

The Standards Board informed Chris Lee that they are awaiting official notification of the federal action.  Once formally notified, Cal/OSHA will decide whether they will also extend the deadline for California contractors (Chris expects they will extend).

Further updates will be provided as developments occur.

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