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AB 2774, introduced by Assembly member Sandre R. Swanson (D-Alameda), amends labor code section 6432 to define serious physical harm and establishes a rebuttable presumption as to when an employer commits a serious violation of these provisions. The law, which went into effect on the first of year, authorizes Cal/OSHA, to define how serious violations of safety in the workplace are cited.
“The previous definition was inadequate and made it exceedingly difficult to prove that a serious violation existed,” said John C. Duncan, Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the state administrator of the Cal/OSHA program.
“This significant clarification will allow Cal/OSHA to better identify serious violations, as well as provide improved guidance for the Appeals Board in cases where the issuance of a serious citation is in question. The new law also establishes procedures for notifying employers of the possibility that they may face a citation for a serious violation and requires that Cal/OSHA staff consider certain factors before issuing a serious citation.”
The bill was introduced on the assembly floor in March and subsequently amended prior to passing the Assembly and Senate in August. It was signed on September 30 by Governor Schwarzenegger and went iinto effect January 1.
“This new interpretation of a serious violation will help strengthen the Cal/OSHA program, improve enforcement efforts and better protect California’s workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “It will help us accurately issue serious citations to more effectively address the most egregious violations.”
New factors used to accurately issue serious citations include any training given to employees and supervisors, existing workplace safety procedures, supervision of employees exposed to the hazard, as well as any contributing information the employer wishes to provide to explain why the employer believes that no serious violation exists.
Under the Labor Code, Cal/OSHA can also issue citations for violations that do not meet the “serious” designation. The criteria for a regulatory violation and general violation will remain unchanged. These violations are generally considered not as egregious as a serious violation.