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OSHA Employee Safety Regulation Guide

As the federal agency responsible for enforcing safe working conditions and standards, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has a huge responsibility. These regulations are designed to protect workers from on-the-job hazards and prevent workplace accidents. Obviously, in a job market as diverse as California, this can be a challenging task. Because OSHA has the authority of the federal government behind them, every California employer has to comply with their regulations and safety standards. Thus, as an employee, you need to understand these regulations and what to do if your employer violates them.

Keep Your Workplace Safe By Contacting Maison Law

At Maison Law, we know how important a safe workplace is to your overall health and satisfaction at your job. Being forced to work in unsafe conditions is unacceptable, and our team of experienced California employment lawyers knows how to hold employers that do so accountable. Take the first step in keeping your workplace safe by contacting us for a free, no-obligation consultation if you feel your right to a safe workplace is being violated.

OSHA Safety Regulations in California Workplaces

In California, employers must comply with both federal and state OSHA regulations, which cover a wide range of different topics. These regulations are in place to ensure that every workplace is safe, and by extension, workers are also protected. Even though California has a number of different types of workplaces, OSHA’s regulations are designed to be comprehensive and applicable across the board. These regulations and standards typically include: ensure the safety and health of employees at work. Here are some key OSHA requirements that apply to California workplaces:
  • Workplace Safety Standards – The most commonly known aspect of OSHA involves workplace safety standards. In California, employers must comply with federal and state OSHA regulations, which set standards for overall workplace safety and health.
  • Hazard Communication – Under OSHA regulations, California employers must have a written Hazard Communication program and provide training to employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) – Every California employer must develop and implement a written IIPP to identify and address workplace hazards and ensure the safety of employees.
  • Recordkeeping and Reporting – All California employers must maintain accurate records of workplace injuries and illnesses and report certain incidents to OSHA.
  • Employee Training – Employers must provide training to employees on the hazards of their job and how to work safely.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – All California employers must provide appropriate PPE, such as gloves, hard hats, and safety glasses, to employees and ensure that they use them properly.
  • Emergency Action Plan – Every California workplace, under OSHA regulations, must have an emergency action plan in place in case of fire, earthquake, or other emergencies.
  • Electrical Safety – Under OSHA regulations, employers in California must ensure that electrical equipment is properly installed, grounded, and maintained to prevent electrical hazards.
  • Machine Guarding – Another important regulation involves ensuring that machines are properly guarded to prevent employees from being caught in moving parts.
  • Respiratory Protection – California employers must provide appropriate respiratory protection to employees exposed to airborne contaminants.

Cal/OSHA

Not only do employers in California have to comply with federal OSHA regulations, but they also have to comply with regulations set by OSHA’s state counterpart, Cal/OSHA.  Along with the California Labor Code, enforcing workplace safety and health regulations is done by this agency. Although it’s a separate entity from the federal OSHA, Cal/OSHA has its own regulations that are similar to federal regulations. However, some of these regulations are unique to California. These include:
  • Heat Illness Prevention – The Heat Illness Prevention Standard requires employers to take certain precautions to protect employees from heat-related illnesses, including providing access to shade, water, and rest breaks.
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) – Cal/OSHA’s unique IIPP standard requires employers to develop and implement a written safety plan that addresses workplace hazards, outlines safety policies and procedures, and provides employee training.
  • Aerosol Transmissible Diseases – The Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard requires employers to protect employees from diseases that can be transmitted through the air, such as tuberculosis.
  • Refinery Safety – The Refinery Safety Order requires employers in the oil and gas industry to implement specific safety measures, such as mechanical integrity programs and process safety management.
  • Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention – The Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention standard requires hotel employers to implement specific measures to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among housekeeping staff.
  • Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care – The Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care standard requires healthcare employers to implement specific measures to prevent workplace violence against employees.
These regulations are in place to protect every worker in California, but not every employer takes this responsibility as seriously as they should. When they fail to comply with these standards, it puts everybody in the workplace at risk for injury.

How Do California Employers Violate OSHA Safety Regulations?

Because OSHA’s safety regulations are designed to be comprehensive, their application across California’s many different workplaces is also broad. More to the point, OSHA requires that employers be knowledgeable of their regulations. Generally, every employer in California has the responsibility to understand and comply with OSHA regulations. However, this doesn’t always mean that employers will comply. Some of the most common violations of OSHA safety regulations by California employers include:
  • Lack of employee training – A common OSHA violation occurs when employers don’t provide proper training on how to safely operate machinery, handle hazardous materials, and recognize workplace hazards. Employers who do not provide this training are violating OSHA regulations.
  • Unsafe work conditions – One of the most common and frustrating violations occurs when employers fail to maintain a safe workplace by eliminating hazards or providing appropriate safety equipment to protect employees from hazards. When employers fail to provide a safe working environment, such as failing to fix broken equipment or allowing clutter to accumulate in work areas, are violating OSHA regulations.
  • Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) – Employers are required to provide and maintain appropriate PPE, such as goggles, gloves, and hard hats, to protect employees from workplace hazards. Failing to do so or not ensuring that employees use PPE when necessary is a clear violation of OSHA regulations.
  • Recordkeeping violations – Another common OSHA violation occurs when employers fail to keep accurate records of workplace injuries, illnesses, and safety training. Furthermore, when employers falsify records, they are violating OSHA regulations.
  • Failure to comply with Cal/OSHA regulations – Employers must also comply with Cal/OSHA regulations, including the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), the Heat Illness Prevention Standard, and the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard. Employers who fail to comply with these regulations are liable for punishment under both sets of regulations.
These are just a few of the common ways employers in California can violate OSHA regulations. Despite a clear responsibility–both legally and ethically–to comply with these regulations, some employers still refuse to do so. When that happens, you or other employees have to take your workplace safety into your own hands.

How Can California Employees Stay Safe in the Workplace?

If your employer is violating OSHA safety standards in your workplace, it puts you and every other worker at risk for injury or illness. Not only is it important for employers to understand these regulations, but you as an employee also have to be aware of them and how they apply to your specific workplace.  This can be crucial to your ability to stay safe in your workplace, but there are other ways you can do this:
  • Attend safety training – You should always attend all required safety training sessions and ask questions if you do not understand any part of the training.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) – No matter what your occupation is, you should wear appropriate PPE, such as goggles, gloves, and hard hats, as required by your employer.
  • Report hazards – Often, the most direct way you can stay safe is to report any workplace hazards to your supervisor or the appropriate safety personnel as soon as possible.
  • Follow safety procedures – Employees should follow all safety procedures and protocols set forth by their employer, including proper use of equipment and machinery.
  • Participate in workplace safety committees – Most workplaces offer or establish “safety committees” to help identify hazards and develop solutions to improve workplace safety. Participation in these committees is a great way to keep you and your coworkers safe.
  • Take breaks and stay hydrated – Especially in jobs that require physical labor or work outdoors, you should take breaks and drink water to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.
  • Practice good ergonomics – It may seem simple, but you should practice good ergonomics by maintaining proper posture, using ergonomic tools and furniture, and taking stretch breaks to avoid repetitive motion injuries.
While taking these steps won’t always prevent accidents, they can seriously reduce the risk and likelihood of injuries in your workplace. But there are other ways that you can keep yourself and your coworkers safe if your employer is violating OSHA standards–taking legal action.

What Actions Can Be Taken If Your Employer Violates OSHA Standards in California?

As an employee, reporting OSHA violations is only one step in the safety process for California workplaces. If you have been injured or become ill as a result of your employer violating OSHA regulations in California, you may have several legal options available to you. Before these steps, it’s important to consult with our team of experienced California employment lawyers. We can help you determine the viability of your claim and give you a clearer picture of the process, which usually includes the following:
  • Filing a complaint with Cal/OSHA – You can file a complaint with Cal/OSHA if you believe that your employer is not providing a safe workplace. Once a complaint has been filed, Cal/OSHA will investigate the complaint and determine if a violation has occurred. If they find that it has, they’ll take corrective action, including fines and penalties.
  • File a whistleblower complaint – If you believe that you have been retaliated against for reporting a workplace safety violation, you can file a whistleblower complaint. This can result in an investigation by Cal/OSHA and may result in legal action against your employer. Retaliation usually includes actions like you being fired, demoted, or otherwise harassed and discriminated against for lodging these valid complaints.
  • Seek workers’ compensation benefits – If you have been injured or become ill as a result of a workplace safety violation, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses. California law requires employers to provide these benefits to you.
  • File a lawsuit – You can also file a lawsuit against your employer for workplace safety violations. This may include claims for negligence, failure to provide a safe workplace, or violations of specific OSHA regulations. Damages can include lost wages, compensation for medical bills, and emotional distress as a result of the situation. 
It is important to note that there are deadlines for filing complaints and legal actions, so it is important to act quickly if you believe that your employer has violated OSHA standards. Generally, filing a complaint for OSHA violations has to be done within 30 to 180 days, depending on the type of violation. Additionally, retaliation against an employee for reporting a workplace safety violation or filing a complaint with Cal/OSHA is illegal, and employers can be held liable for retaliation. No matter what type of OSHA violation has occurred, our team can make sure you get the benefits and support you deserve.

Free Consultations For California Victims Of Unsafe Working Conditions

OSHA regulations are in place for a reason: to keep you and your coworkers safe. While accidents can always happen and some workplaces are more dangerous than others, your employer is still required by law to comply with these regulations. If that doesn’t happen and you’re injured as a result, our team of experienced California employment lawyers at Maison Law can help you hold your employer accountable. We’ll explain your options and help you navigate this challenging time in your life. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some common OSHA violations in California include failure to provide fall protection, inadequate training, lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), unsafe electrical systems, and failure to properly label hazardous chemicals.

The consequences of an OSHA violation in California can include fines, penalties, and potentially even criminal charges. The severity of the consequences depends on the nature and extent of the violation.

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