Changes to California Employment Laws for 2015 Part I: Workplace Safety
In November, 2014 the California Chamber of Commerce released a list of new laws affecting employers beginning in 2015. This is the beginning aof a series on those workplace law changes and the effects on business.
Penalties for Failure to Abate Safety Hazards
Cal/OSHA can require an employer to abate (fix) serious workplace safety violations and also to issue civil penalties.
An employer can appeal the citation.
AB 1634, in effect, prohibits the state Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board from modifying civil penalties for abatement or credit for abatement unless the employer has fixed the violation.
In cases of serious, repeat serious or willful serious violations, AB 1634 will generally prohibit a stay or suspension of an abatement requirement while an appeal or petition for reconsideration is pending, unless the employer can demonstrate that a stay or suspension will not adversely affect the health and safety of employees.
Email for Workplace Safety Reports
AB 326 allows employers to email their reports of a work-related serious injury, illness or death to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Previously, the Labor Code required an immediate report by telephone or telegraph. The reference to telegraph is removed and replaced with email.
Workplace Violence Prevention Plans: Hospitals
SB 1299 requires Cal/OSHA to adopt standards by January 1, 2016, that require specified types of hospitals, including general acute care hospitals or acute psychiatric hospitals, to adopt workplace violence prevention plans as part of the hospitals’ injury and illness prevention plans. The intent is to protect health care workers and other facility personnel from aggressive and violent behavior.
The bill would require the division, by January 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, to post a report on its Internet Web site containing specified information regarding violent incidents at hospitals. The bill would exempt certain state-operated hospitals from these provisions.
Because this bill would expand the scope of a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.