The Functions of the California Occupational Safety and Health Program

Cal/OSHA, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, protects and enhances the health and safety of California’s working men and women. Since 1973, when California’s plan was presented to federal OSHA for approval, the Cal/OSHA program has been handled by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), which is part of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

Cal/OSHA applies to almost everyone in California, including state and municipal government employees. Federal employees and offshore maritime workers are among the few exceptions to the Cal/OSHA jurisdiction.

Employer and Employee Support

Cal/OSHA operates under the idea that enforcing regulations is not the sole strategy to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. To identify and eliminate workplace dangers, federal OSHA and California/OSHA use incentives to encourage voluntary compliance, as well as employer/employee education and training. Through the Consultation Services Branch, Cal/OSHA provides consultative support to employers and employees.

Cal/OSHA also offers educational resources, such as etools, to help workers avoid or reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. Many of these are accessible in multiple languages, including Spanish. The publications can be downloaded from www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/PubOrder.asp, and the etools can be found at www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/etools. Printed documents can be picked up at Cal/OSHA offices when they become available.

Consultation Service

The Cal/OSHA Consultation Services Branch’s objective is to help California employers and employees avoid workplace injuries and illnesses by providing efficient workplace safety and health assistance. The goals of the Cal/OSHA Consultation are to:

  • For small high-hazard employers, identify hazards and encourage safety and health;
  • Inform businesses and employees on the importance of workplace safety and health; and
  • Encourage companies and employees to put appropriate safety and health procedures in place and keep them up to date.

On-site inspections, off-site discussions, the High Hazard Employer Program, educational materials, collaboration programs, and outreach help are all available as consulting services.

On-site visits

Employers can call to request on-site support, which is only provided at the request of the employer. The assessment and suggested improvements to workplace safety and health programs are important benefits of an on-site consultation. An on-site visit usually entails the following:

  • Opening conference – The consultant describes the process and management decides whether or not to move forward.
  • Examine employer safety records – consultant finds hazards by reviewing previous injuries and illnesses and offers changes to help prevent future events.
  • Program review – consultant evaluates the effectiveness of program implementation by reviewing written safety and health programs, including documentation and records.
  • Walk-around hazard identification – a consultant conducts a walk-around evaluation to identify and remedy harmful situations and work practices.
  • Training and abatement assistance – During or after the on-site visit, the consultant may provide formal or informal training to employers and employees on safe work procedures and other topics.
  • Closing conference – the consultant outlines the results and time limits for correcting severe hazards at the end of the on-site visit. A written follow-up report includes advice on how to put up an effective IIPP and other programs, as well as a hazard summary and other useful information.

Off-site consultation

Cal/OSHA also offers telephone, email, and office meetings to employers and employees who are not on the job.

Employer Program for High-Risk Companies

To promote successful Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) implementation and prevent injuries and illnesses, this program provides consultation evaluations to establishments recognized on the High Hazard Industry List.

Collaboration Programs

  • Cal/OSHA manages partnership programs that bring together industry, labor, and Cal/OSHA. Cal/VPP, SHARP, and Golden Gate are the three programs offered by Cal/OSHA.
  • To learn more about being a Cal/OSHA partnership employer, contact Consultation’s Voluntary Protection Program office, which is mentioned under “Directory of Offices” in this guide.

Outreach Assistance

Cal/OSHA holds workplace safety and health seminars, conferences, workshops, and other outreach programs for businesses and employees, and participates in them. These public awareness campaigns are aimed at high-risk industries, processes, and occupations.

Record-keeping and Reporting

Records of Injuries and Illnesses

Except for employers with fewer than ten employees at any given time during the year or those in certain low-hazard industries identified in section 14300.2, all employers in California covered by the Cal/OSHA regulations are required to keep injury records, also known as the Log 300, Log 300A, and Log 301.

These records serve as a foundation for detecting dangerous locations or procedures that require correction, alerting employees about the employer’s workplace safety and health condition, and collecting data for a national survey of occupational injuries and illnesses. Every Cal/OSHA consultation visit and enforcement inspection includes a review of the records.

There are four steps in the Cal/OSHA record keeping system:

  1. For each recordable workplace fatality, injury, or sickness, create a supplementary record (Injury and Illness Incident Report) – Log 301.
  2. Fill out the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses – Log 300 form for each recordable injury or illness.
  3. Fill out the Annual Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses form with the totals. Post the completed form by February 1, maintain it up to date and visible to employees until April 30, and offer copies as needed – Log 300A.
  4. Keep these records in your employer’s files for a period of five years.

Reporting Serious Injuries and Fatalities

Employers must immediately report fatalities and serious injuries or illnesses that occur on the job or in the workplace to the Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch’s nearest district office via phone or email.

A serious injury or sickness is defined as one that necessitates inpatient hospitalization for more than 24 hours for reasons other than medical observation, or one that results in the loss of a body part or a serious degree of permanent disfigurement.

Mine fires, mine workings, harmful gas accumulations, hoisting mishaps, sudden inflows of dangerous gases or water, and ground instability must all be reported to the DOSH Mining and Tunneling Unit immediately, whether or not persons are wounded.

General acute care hospitals, acute mental hospitals, and special hospitals must use an online reporting system to report occurrences of workplace violence to Cal/OSHA.

Exposure Records

Records of employee exposure to toxic compounds and hazardous exposures, physical examinations, reports, employment records, and other information are required by Cal/OSHA regulations for toxic substances and hazardous exposures.

Activity Documentation

Cal/OSHA regulations stipulate that records of the steps taken to establish and maintain an injury and illness prevention program be kept, including records of scheduled and periodic inspections to identify hazardous conditions and work practices, as well as documentation of employee safety and health training. These documents must be preserved for a minimum of one year.

Medical and Exposure Records Access for Employees

General Industry Safety Order 3204 specifies that workers and their chosen representatives may see and copy the following information to promote identification, treatment, and prevention of occupational disease and to support a worker’s right to know.

  • Records of toxic substance and harmful physical agent exposure measured either by workplace monitoring or biological monitoring to gauge absorption of a substance or agent by body systems,
  • Records of toxic substance and harmful physical agent exposure for employees with similar jobs or working conditions, and
  • Safety data sheets or equivalent information provided by the employer.

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