On August 12, 2019 California legislators approved a new bill mandating immediate reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses through a new reporting system established by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). The bill now sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk awaiting his signature. If it is approved before October 12, the new law will take effect in January 2020.
Employers in the state are currently required to report all “recordable” injuries, illnesses or fatalities that occur in the workplace to Cal/OSHA by telephone or email as soon as possible, and fill out an Injury and Illness Report form within seven days. A recordable event is one that results in lost time beyond the date of the incident and requires medical treatment beyond first aid.
The new bill, AB 1804, will require employers to immediately report serious occupational injuries and illnesses and workplace fatalities to the Cal/OSHA via an online reporting system created by the department. Employers will no longer be able to report incidents through email, but will still have the option to report by phone for the time being.
One of the main reasons legislators are pushing for the change is because emailed reports are often incomplete and don’t provide enough necessary information to Cal/OSHA about the incident that occurred. Without the proper details, Cal/OSHA is not always able investigate the incident quickly and effectively.
Governor Newsom is expected to sign the bill, and employers will need to be compliant with the new reporting standards beginning in January of next year. With Cal/OSHA known as being one of the most aggressive and enforcement-heavy state safety and health agencies in the country, employers won’t want to be found in violation of the new requirements.
Current civil penalties under Cal/OSHA are as follows:
- General Violations: Up To $12,726 Per Violation
- Serious Violations: Up To $25,000 Per Violation
- Willful Or Repeat Violations: Up To $127,254 Per Violation
- Failure To Abate: Up To $15,000 Per Day
- Failure To Report Serious Injury Or Illness Or Death Of An Employee: A Minimum Penalty Of $5,000
Cal/OSHA violations can also result in significant criminal penalties against employers including fines into the millions of dollars and even jail time, depending on the nature of the violations. For more information on workplace safety visit Emplicity’s worker compensation website at https://emplicity.com/workers-compensation/.
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