NEW LAWS RE WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
- Definition Changes - AB 1805 changes the definitions of “serious injury or illness” and “serious exposure” to align with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Under current law, employers must report to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (known as Cal/OSHA) a “serious injury or illness,” which is defined as requiring inpatient hospitalization for more than 24 hours for reasons other than medical observation or tests. AB 1805 removes the 24-hour minimum hospitalization requirement. This means employers will have to report all inpatient hospitalizations, regardless of the length of stay. The bill also updates the definition of “serious exposure” to mean exposure to a hazardous substance that has a “realistic possibility” of death or serious physical harm (versus current law requiring “substantial probability” of death/serious harm). As for reporting, current law requires employers to report serious workplace injury, illness or death to Cal/OSHA by telephone or email. AB 1804 requires such reporting through an online platform, but employers may continue making these reports by telephone or email until the platform is available.
- Restraining Orders - Currently, immediate family members and law enforcement officers can petition courts to issue a “gun violence restraining order” prohibiting individuals from having in their custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing or receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive, a firearm or ammunition upon showing of a substantial likelihood of significant danger or harm to self or others. AB 61 expands the law, allowing employers, co-workers (with employer approval) who regularly interact with the person, or an employee or teacher of a secondary or postsecondary school (with school administration approval), to file a petition for a gun violence restraining order.
- Valley Fever - AB 203 requires construction employers working in counties where a fungal infection called Valley Fever is highly prevalent to provide employee training on Valley Fever annually and before an employee begins work that’s “reasonably anticipated” to expose them to the fungus. The bill requires the training to cover certain topics and gives employers the option to include the training in their Injury and Illness Prevention Program, or as a standalone program. Training isn’t required during the county’s first year being listed as highly prevalent for Valley Fever, but training is required in subsequent years.