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August 2, 2016

Cal/OSHA Inspections Up; Penalties to Increase

Business operations need to be vigilant in meeting safety rules and regulations as Cal/OSHA has announced they intend to increase inspections, continuing an ongoing trend. Over the last several years, Cal/OSHA inspections and violations have surged. The agency has also indicated they will adopt the newly implemented federal fine levels that will almost double current fines for violations in California.

Based on recent data, Cal/OSHA inspections and violations are likely to set a five-year high when the 2015 final year data is released. Through September, there had been over 6,000 on-site inspections and more than 13,000 violations—20 percent of which were classified as “serious” and eligible for higher fine levels. Violations in which there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result are considered “serious.” 

The construction industry led all sectors of the economy with over 2,000 inspections and nearly 4,000 violations through September 2015. Agriculture had just under 600 inspections with a more than 1,000 violations. Of the agricultural violations, 19 percent were considered “serious.”

Prior to the new penalty rules, a serious violation would cost $7,000. The amount is now set at $12,471.  Repeat “serious-willful” violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709.

Cal/OSHA is making the point that violations of any type are going to be punished and serious violations are going to have a significant financial impact on companies. Because reducing the number of hazardous situations and work injuries is one of their primary concerns, Cal/OSHA is ramping up the penalties they can apply to ensure compliance.

Western Growers Insurance Services (WGIS) has a team of safety and loss control specialists who can assist your company in identifying hazardous situations and eliminating the potential for Cal/OSHA violations. Insurance Services also has a complete safety and insurance program that addresses all aspects of worker safety, asset protection and product liability. If you would like to discuss your particular needs, contact Greg Nelson, vice president of WGIS, at (949) 885-2287.