Recent Announcements

Cal/OSHA Interim Guidelines for General Industry on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Note: These Interim Guidelines Are Subject to Change as the Situation Evolves


Cal/OSHA's regulations require protection for workers exposed to airborne infectious diseases such as the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. This interim guidance provides employers and workers with information for preventing exposure to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. Employers and employees should review their own health and safety procedures as well as the recommendations and standards detailed below to ensure workers are protected.

Employers Covered by the ATD Standard

Cal/OSHA requires employers covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard (California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 5199) to protect employees from airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and pathogens transmitted by aerosols. The ATD Standard applies to:

  1. Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, medical offices, outpatient medical facilities, home health care, long-term health care facilities, hospices, medical outreach services, medical transport and emergency medical services
  2. Certain laboratories, public health services and police services that are reasonably anticipated to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease.
  3. Correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs.
  4. Any other locations when Cal/OSHA informs employers in writing that they must comply with the ATD Standard.

When covered employers effectively implement the ATD Standard, they also reduce exposure risks for other staff in the workplace who may not have patient contact, and the community as a whole. Employers covered by the ATD Standard should review section 5199 and Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) for further information.

Employers Not Covered by the ATD Standard

Cal/OSHA recommends employers not covered by the ATD Standard follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

These guidelines include infection prevention measures which include:

  • Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home
  • Sending employees with acute respiratory illness symptoms home immediately
  • Providing information and training to employees on:
    • Cough and sneeze etiquette
    • Hand hygiene
    • Avoiding close contact with sick persons
    • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Avoiding sharing personal items with co-workers (i.e. dishes, cups, utensils, towels)
    • Providing tissues, no-touch disposal trash cans and hand sanitizer for use by employees
  • Performing routine environmental cleaning of shared workplace equipment and furniture (disinfection beyond routine cleaning is not recommended)
  • Advising employees to check CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices prior to travel

The CDC guidelines also contain recommendations for creating an infectious disease outbreak response plan to be followed in the event of an outbreak. These response plans include one or more of the following:

  • Allowing flexible worksites, telecommuting and flexible work hours to increase physical distance among employees
  • Using other methods of minimizing exposure between employees, and between employees and the public
  • Postponing or canceling large work-related meetings or events.

Cal/OSHA Penalties Increase

posted Feb 5, 2018, 10:12 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

It has been two years since Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.  This resulted in the first increase in federal OSHA’s penalty amounts since 1990 – beginning with a whopping one-time increase of 78%.  For federal OSHA, the new penalties went into effect for citations issued on or after August 1, 2016.

Federal OSHA’s position was that this increase did apply to state-plan states and California has followed suit, amending its own penalty statute, 8 CCR 336, to increase statutory penalty amounts. The new penalty structure went into effect on September 14, 2017.

  • The maximum penalty for general and regulatory violations has increased from $7,000 to $12,471.
  • The minimum penalty for willful violations has increased from $5,000 to $8,908, and the maximum penalty has increased from $70,000 to $124,709.
  • The minimum and maximum penalties for serious violations in California were already higher than federal OSHA’s newly-adjusted maximum penalty of $12,675. The minimum penalty for a serious violation in California remains $18,000, and the maximum remains $25,000. However, separate penalty requirements for serious violations of the tower crane and carcinogen use standards, which were set at $2,000, have been removed.
  • Likewise, California’s existing maximum penalty for failure-to-abate, $15,000 per day, already exceeded federal OSHA’s newly-adjusted maximum penalty of $12,675, and has not been changed. For serious violations of a crane standard, order, or special order that have lead to death or serious injury, the maximum penalty of $14,000 per calendar day has not changed.

What are Cal/OSHA Enforcement Branch's responsibilities?

posted Oct 24, 2017, 12:17 PM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

  • Complaint and accident investigations.  Cal/OSHA investigates:
    • Complaints of workplace hazards filed by employees, employee representatives, and others.
    • Reports of serious violations received from law enforcement.
    • Reports of accidents resulting in serious injury or illness or death.
  • Targeted and programmed inspections.  Cal/OSHA conducts targeted inspections of employers in high hazard industries (i.e., with high rates of preventable injuries and illnesses and workers' compensation losses).  Cal/OSHA conducts programmed inspections in mining and tunneling, petroleum refining, and the underground economy.
  • Citations, special orders, and orders to take special action.  Cal/OSHA issues citations, special orders, and orders to take special action after investigation of hazards in a workplace.
  • Orders prohibiting use.  Cal/OSHA issues orders prohibiting use where there is an imminent hazard.
  • Permits, certifications, licenses, approvals, and classifications.  Cal/OSHA issues project permits and annual permits to employers for major activities in construction and permits allowing use of diesel engines in mining and tunneling.  For information about the permitting process, see Title 8 regulations, section 341.1.  Cal/OSHA also issues certifications, licenses, approvals, and classifications.

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Fed/OSHA Standards

posted Apr 22, 2017, 10:27 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.   [ updated Apr 22, 2017, 10:28 AM ]

1.  1926.501 – Fall Protection (C) - 6906 violations

2.  1910.1200 – Hazard Communication - 5665 violations

3.  1926.451 – Scaffolding (C) - 3900 violations

4.  1910.134 – Respiratory Protection - 3573 violations

5.  1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout - 3406 violations

6.  1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks - 617 violations

7.  1926.1053 – Ladders (C) - 2625 violations

8.  1910.305 – Machine Guarding - 2448 violations

9.  1910.212 – Electrical, Wiring Methods - 1937 violations

10. 1910.303 – Electrical (General Req.) - 1704 violations 

(C) = Construction standard

For more information, visit

OSHA's New Final Rule Updates Walking-Working Surfaces Standard and Establishes Personal Fall Protection Requirements

posted Mar 31, 2017, 11:43 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

OSHA issued a final rule Nov. 17 updating its 44-year old general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standard to protect workers from slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also increases consistency in safety and health standards for people working in both general and construction industries. OSHA estimates the final rule will prevent more than 5,800 injuries a year.  The rule takes effect Jan. 17, 2017.

"The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. The rule's most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options.

For more information, visit

Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus

posted Dec 1, 2016, 10:00 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are monitoring the Zika virus outbreak spreading through Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean, including U.S. territories. For the most up-to-date information, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zika website frequently. Some U.S. states have mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus, and travel-associated Zika virus infections in U.S. states may result in local spread of the virus. Visit the CDC Areas with Zika website to learn where there is current transmission. Workers who are exposed on the job to mosquitoes or the blood or other body fluids of infected individuals may be at risk for occupationally acquired Zika virus infection. This interim guidance provides employers and workers with information and guidance on preventing occupational exposure to the Zika virus. The guidance may be updated as additional information becomes available.

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Protect Construction Workers in Confined Spaces

posted Aug 18, 2016, 1:12 PM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces .  People working in confined spaces (such as manholes, crawl spaces and tanks) face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation.

Last year, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first – which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces.

"In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don't have to happen," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces. In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year."

The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have had for more than two decades, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards – a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created.

This standard is effective - 
August 3, 2015.

New OSHA Reporting Requirements Now in Effect

posted Mar 3, 2015, 10:07 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

Beginning January 1, 2015, there is a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.Employers are now  required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.

As of January 1, 2015:

All employers* must report: 

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours

Within 24 hours, all work-related: 

  • Inpatient hospitalizations
  • Amputations
  • Losses of an eye 

How to Report Incident

*Employers under Federal OSHA's jurisdiction must begin reporting by January 1. Establishments in a state with a state run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.

Active Shooter Preparedness

posted May 27, 2014, 11:54 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

In recent weeks, police have responded to active shooter incidents at an airport, a shopping mall, a school and now a college community.  This spike of senseless shootings, like the most recent one in Isla Vista, make one stop and think "would I know what to do?".  To this end, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aims to enhance preparedness through a "whole community" approach by providing training, products and resources to a broad range of stakeholders on issues such as active shooter awareness, incident response and workplace violence.  In many cases, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter, and these situations are by their very nature are unpredictable and evolve quickly.  DHS offers free courses, materials and workshops to better prepare you to deal with an active shooter situation and to raise awareness of behaviors that represent pre-incident indicator and characteristics of active shooters.  Download the Active Shooter Educational Booklet below for more information.

What is Workplace Violence?

posted May 27, 2014, 11:27 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.

Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide.  Download the factsheet below to learn more.

National Safety Stand-Down for Fall Protection - June 2 - 6, 2014

posted May 27, 2014, 11:10 AM by Robert B Montgomery, R.E.H.S.   [ updated May 27, 2014, 11:16 AM ]

The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down is to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012. Those deaths were preventable. Fall prevention safety standards were among the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards, during fiscal year 2012.

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety, this year we are focusing on “Fall Hazards" and to reinforce the importance of "Fall Prevention."

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQ's

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime during the week of June 2-6, 2014. See Suggestions to Prepare for a Successful "Stand-Down."

The goal is to have over 25,000 employers and 500,000 workers to hold a Stand-Down and if we meet this goal, we will have touched almost 1 out of 10 construction workers in the country.

Who Can Participate?

Participants may include employer’s trade associations, federal, state and local governmental agencies, professional societies, institutes, and consumer/labor-management interest organizations, sub-and independent contractors.


OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

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