Cal/OSHA Inspections and Violation Citations Trending Upward
Be prepared for the arrival of Cal/OSHA inspectors showing up to worksites throughout the state. Whether investigating serious industrial accidents, responding to complaints, or conducting random inspections, the latest statistics published in Cal/OSHA Reporter show that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has stepped up its activity in recent calendar quarters. Indications are this trend will continue upward.
Comparing first-quarter figures from the past six years, the number of Cal/OSHA investigations has risen steadily, from 2,608 in 2011 to 3,375 in 2016, nearly a 30% increase. Citations for alleged serious violations have increased even more significantly – by 330% in the same period. Alleged serious violations represented 21% of total cited alleged violations for the first quarter of 2016 versus only 10% in 2011.
This trend is a wake-up call to get ready for the greater likelihood of DOSH inspectors knocking on your door. Be proactive and make sure you are implementing best practices to prevent and respond to workplace injuries. A few important areas to consider include:
Hazard Reduction and Risk Improvement – identify the hazards your worksites present and implement an action plan to minimize the risks. Seek professional risk management guidance; they often see concerns internal staff may miss.
Promote Good Ergonomic Practices – not only will this help reduce cumulative trauma injuries, but employee fatigue and pain from poor body mechanics potentially lead to more serious accidents.
Train Employees to be Safer Workers – workers must understand their role in their own safety and that of their co-workers. Be sure they know how to avoid the dangers, and correctly use personal protective equipment and hazardous materials needed for their job.
Document and Demonstrate – maintain excellent recordkeeping of your worker training, risk reduction measures and regulatory compliance. If an accident occurs, investigate thoroughly with a goal of preventing further incidents. If you are cited for violations, demonstrating these actions could help reduce assessed penalties.
While these considerations are certainly not new concepts to those involved in workers’ compensation and loss control, the lesson to be learned from Cal/OSHA’s inspection activity is that we cannot afford to become complacent about workplace safety and health. Giving such matters routine attention requires going beyond just following routine procedures. We must also look beyond the obvious, and assess the possibility of the unimaginable happening.
About Trina Caton
Trina Caton is Assistant Vice President in Keenan’s Loss Control Department and she is based in our Rancho Cordova office. Trina directs our Loss Control professionals in northern California and oversees the internal operations/resources of the department statewide. She has over 20 years of experience and is dedicated to making schools safer for students and educators.