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OSHA Regulations for the State of California

Are you working in California? Employers and employees in California must not only comply with Federal OSHA regulations but also adhere to the occupational health and safety rules and regulations pertaining to the state of California.

Under the OSHA-approved state plan mandate, the state of California has developed its own OSHA programs and regulations that cover all private-sector employers (although there are some exceptions), as well as state and local government employers. The California State Plan, popularly known as Cal/OSHA, does not cover federal government employers including the United States Postal Service, who must follow Federal OSHA standards as must the employers exempted from the California State Plan. Furthermore, the enforcement of the anti-retaliation provision for the private sector under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Section 11(c), 29 USC 660(c); continues to be governed by Federal OSHA, although the investigation of private employers and state and local government workplace retaliation cases under is overseen by Cal/OSHA.

Cal/OSHA regulations are as effective as Federal OSHA standards and sometimes even more stringent. The Cal/OSHA regulations are overseen and enforced by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) under the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Cal/OSHA State Regulations are outlined in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR).

Unique Cal/OSHA Standards

The state of California also makes added efforts to regulate and oversee the safety and health of employees by having developed some unique standards for topics and/or areas not regulated by Federal OSHA. These include:

  • Aerosol Transmissible Diseases;
  • Agriculture;
  • Child Labor;
  • Heat Exposure;
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program;
  • Noise Exposure;
  • Petroleum Drilling and Production;
  • Petroleum Refining, Transport, and Handling;
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries;
  • Toxic Chemical Handling and Exposure; and
  • Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care.

California State Standards and Employee Training

Cal/OSHA has a set of specific requirements for training workers that differ from Federal OSHA. As such, employers and employees must abide by these training guidelines. Below is an extract of the list of the instruction and training requirements as detailed in the Construction Safety Orders (Subchapter 4) and the General Industry Safety Orders (Subchapter 7) of Title 8, Division 1, Chapter 4 (with several references contained in Chapter 3.2) of the California Code of Regulations.

Topic Topic Frequency of Training Who Should Receive Training
Asbestos/Asbestos Awareness Initial & Annual Employees likely exposed =>PEL & those who perform Class I-IV operations
Bloodborne Pathogens Initial & Annual Potentially Exposed Employees
Confined Spaces Initial Affected Employees
Excavation/ Trenching/ Shoring Competent Person
Fall Protection Initial Affected Employees
Competent Person
Qualified Person
Hazard Communication Initial & when new chemicals or processes are introduced in the workplace Exposed Employees
Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Initial & Annual Refresher Assigned Employees
Qualified Person
Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Initial & Annual Refresher Assigned Employees
Qualified Person
Assigned Employees Qualified Person
Lead Awareness and Lead in Construction Initial & Annual Exposed Employees/Supervisors Exposed Employees => Action Level
Scaffolds Initial Erectors & Dismantlers: Qualified Person
Silica Dust: Power tool work on concrete or masonry materials Before Assignment Assigned Employees Supervisor

For the complete list of training requirements, visit the Cal/OSHA Safety & Health Training and Instruction Requirements webpage. Another handy resource to ensure the safety and health of workers in the workplace is the Cal/OSHA Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry which can be viewed here.

For employers and employees who would like to find out what Cal/OSHA requires in terms of workplace health and safety training and who should be trained, the California Department of Industrial Relations has a dedicated eTool page that gives general and specific guidance for employers as a reference point.

Additional Support Provided to Employers by Cal/OSHA

In addition to regulating the implementation and adherence to the OSHA standards, Cal/OSHA also offers support to employers and employees through:

  • Enforcement programs;
  • Consultation programs;
  • Voluntary and partnership programs; and
  • Informal Conferences and Appeals.