Senate Bill 606 changes the enforcement of safety and health requirements in Southern California, redefining liability for non-compliance in workplace health and safety programs. The bill includes new employer violation categories, civil penalties and compliance tools.
Egregious violations per exposed employee
One category added to OSHA enforcement is egregious violations if certain circumstances apply. The penalty for violating is a multiplier of each exposed employee. Notable circumstances include the following:
- Violations result in at least three hospitalization, fatalities, or significant numbers of illnesses or injuries.
- The company deliberately disregards its responsibilities regarding employee health and safety.
- The employer makes no reasonable effort to remove known violations.
- There is a history of violations.
- The employer demonstrates bad faith in their duties to protect employers.
- Violations show a disregard for the effectiveness of programs designed to promote safety and health.
As defined by SB 606, there will be a presumption that any health and safety violation with an employer responsible for multi-worksites is enterprise-wide. The presumption applies if:
- Any written procedure or policy violates Cal/OSHA regulations.
- Cal/OSHA can evidence a pattern or practice of a repeated violation at one or more of an employer’s worksites.
What employers need to consider
With SB 606 in place, employers need to take greater care with illness outbreaks, hospitalizations, multiple fatalities and adherence to policies and procedures. Otherwise, the penalties are steep.
Employers have to take care with written programs spanning their sites. Employers managing multiple worksites need to ensure that programs are always location-specific. An employer must also be aware of how OSHA’s new guidelines could impact workers’ compensation.
SB 606 expands Cal/OSHA’s power to enforce violations. It enhances subpoena power as well as the ability to serve temporary restraining orders and injunctions.