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New Cal/OSHA Reporting Requirements Highlight Importance Of Workplace Safety

January 14, 2020

The new Cal/OSHA reporting requirements for serious workplace injuries or illnesses that went into effect in California as of January 1, 2020, highlight the importance of Workplace Safety as a component of your nonprofit’s Risk Management Program. Time-frames for reporting have been shortened and type of incidents that require reporting have expanded with employers potentially facing fines if they fail to report. This could be quite stressful when those involved are unsure of what steps to take. We suggest that your nonprofit adopts a sound workplace safety program and culture of safety that includes open communication on the part of both management and employees. Clearly defining proactive procedures and cultivating safety mindsets should help to limit the number of incidents that must be reported and reduce overall stress for management and employees.

New Reporting Laws

Assembly Bill 1804 and 1805 are new California State laws effective 1/1/2020 that expand the number and type of injury or illness that must be reported to Cal/OSHA as well as require a shorter time frame for submitting a report. Under Assembly Bill 1804 a death, serious injury or serious illness must be reported immediately upon learning of the event by the employer, not by a third party. The report must be submitted by phone or through an online reporting system. Phone reporting is recommended by Cal/OSHA as the online system is not yet available (temporary email reporting is available until online reporting is implemented). As of January 1, employers may no longer send reports by fax. Assembly Bill 1805 expands both number and type of workplace injuries that fall under the new reporting requirements. Serious injury or illness is defined by being admitted for hospitalization, except for testing or observation, as opposed the previous law defining “serious” as being hospitalized for 24 hours or more. It also expands reporting requirements to injury or loss of limbs. In addition, law enforcement and fire departments must also make a report if they responded to an incident involving a serious workplace injury or illness.

Develop A Workplace Safety Program

Developing an effective Workplace Safety Program is the best way to reduce the number and type of incidents involving serious on-the-job injury, illness or fatality, and the first step is to define your organization’s safety risks. In fact, California employers are required to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program in place. Even if you are a low hazard employer, regardless of occupation, whether it is in construction or accounting, safety risks do exist for all organizations. OSHA defines six types of workplace safety risks: General safety hazards; biological hazards; physical hazards; ergonomic hazards, chemical hazards; and work organization hazards such as heavy workloads or interpersonal relationships. You should be sure you are taking all six hazard categories into account when developing or refining your program.

It’s critical to develop a culture of safety in the workplace to help protect your staff and reduce costs to your organization. One way this can be facilitated is through educating staff members about hazards to be aware of and how to prevent accidents as well as by communicating to employees clearly what is expected of them upon a workplace injury or illness occurring. This way, employees know the proper procedures and time-frames for informing management so that reporting happens in a timely manner. Management also know what actions to take upon being informed of an incident. Conducting assessments after an accident occurs in order to determine how to improve procedures or prevent the incident from happening again is also critical to an effective workplace safety program.

Make Safety A Priority

Making safety a priority at your nonprofit makes sense and will lighten the impact of potential increased reporting for your staff. Developing a workplace safety program including a written injury and illness prevention program and training your staff will increase morale and support your workplace culture.

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There are a number of resources for developing a workplace safety program:

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