Cal/OSHA Inspections: Are You at Risk?
Considering whether your safety program is truly prepared for a Cal/OSHA inspection at any moment can keep even the best safety managers up at night. How do you make sure you've covered all of your bases? How do you know whether you're at risk? It can help to know where the greatest risk of inspection lies.
In a CER webinar titled "Cal/OSHA Inspections: How To Effectively Prepare For A Surprise Visit From Cal/OSHA," Don Dressler outlined some guidance for employers to understand what triggers an inspection, Cal/OSHA areas of emphasis, and the Cal/OSHA highest hazard industries. Understanding these lists can help you assess your risk of a surprise inspection.
What Might Trigger a Cal/OSHA Inspection?
What triggers a Cal/OSHA inspection? Simply knowing the answer to this can help you assess your risk of an inspection. Here are some of the top causes:
- A fatality or serious injury (Dressler advised that this is the cause for about a quarter of all inspections annually)
- An employee complaint (this is also the cause for about a quarter of all inspections annually)
- A report of imminent injury or OSHA inspector observation, which can occur when a hazard is in plain sight (also known as a "drive by" or "clear view" situation)
- A follow-up from a previous inspection or citation (Dressler advised that this follow-up is usually "to determine whether there has been abatement of a hazardous condition")
- Being an employer in a hazardous industry or being a hazardous employer (meaning an employer with an experience modification of over 125)
- Labor law enforcement "sweeps" in which industries which may be targeted jointly by other labor law enforcement groups, such as immigration
Cal/OSHA Inspections: Areas of Emphasis
Cal/OSHA inspections have some common areas of emphasis as well. This is relevant for you because you can determine whether or not these areas are likely to be encountered in your workplace.
- Heat illness – for any outside workers
- Confined spaces
- Hospital safe patient handling
- Warehouse operations (Inland Empire area in particular)
- High hazard industries (there's always focus on construction)
Finally, you should ensure abatement of any citations found previously
Dressler advised that "if you fit into one of these areas, you should particularly notch up your preparations because these are high-target areas for Cal/OSHA in 2012."
Cal/OSHA Inspections: Highest Hazard Industry List
In the last list, you may have noticed that "high hazard industries" are an area of emphasis for Cal/OSHA. So, what are the highest hazard industries?
For 2 years now, 2011 and 2012, the Cal/OSHA highest hazard industry list has been:
- Agriculture: vegetable and melon farming
- Construction: roofing contractors
- Manufacturing: sugar and confectionery products; dairy products; animal slaughtering and processing; beverage and tobacco products; wood product manufacturing; foundries; architectural and structural metals; ship and boat building
- Transportation and warehousing: air transportation; support activities for water transport; couriers and messengers; warehousing and storage
- Waste management: waste treatment and disposal
- Health care: nursing and residential care facilities
- Other: dry-cleaning and laundry services
Knowing these high-target areas and triggers for Cal/OSHA inspections, what is your risk level?
To register for a future webinar, visit Cal/OSHA Compliance Advisor webinars.
Don Dressler of Irvine-based Don Dressler Consulting has been working with safety recordkeeping for over 15 years as the head of an agricultural trade association's safety and loss control staff and since 2003 as a safety and human resources consultant and attorney. Dressler focuses on safety, employment and human resources issues, accident investigations, OSHA compliance and workers' compensation.