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California’s Injury and Illness Prevention Plans: New Rules on Employee Access

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted a new safety rule on January 16, 2020, requiring employers to provide employees with access to their written Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) within five days of an employee’s request. The new rule is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021. California’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Cal/OSHA) frequently cites employers for failing to maintain an IIPP that complies with the detailed requirements set forth in Cal/OSHA’s IIPP rule at 8 CCR § 3203. In addition to verifying that their IIPP complies with those requirements, employers will want to ensure that their IIPPs comply with this new access requirement by determining—and documenting—how requests for access can be made and how employees will be provided access to the IIPP.

Cal/OSHA requires employers with 10 or more employees to develop a written IIPP. 8 CCR § 3203(a). However, there was previously no requirement that employers share or make those plans available to employees. This new rule requires employers to provide “access” to the IIPP within five business days of receiving a request from an employee or the employee’s designated representative for the IIPP. Employers have two options as to how to comply with this access rule – by providing a printed or electronic copy of the plan, or, instead of providing a copy of the plan, by providing access to the plan through a server or website. 

If the employer decides to provide a copy of the IIPP, the employer must provide the requester a printed copy unless the employee agrees to receive an electronic copy. 8 CCR § 3203(a)(8)(B)(1)(a). One printed copy must be provided free of charge. If the employee requests additional copies of the IIPP within one year of the previous request, and the IIPP has not been updated during that time, then the employer can charge reasonable copying costs for the additional copies. 8 CCR § 3203(a)(8)(B)(1)(b). 

Alternatively, an employer can satisfy the requirement to provide access to an IIPP if the employer provides “unobstructed access” through a company server or website, which allows an employee to review, print, and email the electronic IIPP. 8 CCR § 3203(a)(8)(B)(2). “Unobstructed access” means “that the employee, as part of his or her regular work duties, predictably and routinely uses the electronic means to the community with management or coworkers.” Id. 

Employers are also required to communicate the right to request access to its IIPP and the procedure for requesting access to all employees. 8 CCR § 3203(a)(8)(E).

Cal/OSHA’s requirement for employers to maintain an IIPP is unique and does not have an identical counterpart under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Citations for failure to maintain a complete IIPP are common. In addition to updating the IIPP to address this new access issue and training management personnel on this new standard, employers should review the detailed requirements for these written safety plans and ensure their plans comply.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume X, Number 34



About this Author

Kaitlyn D. Shannon Environmental Enforcement & Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond San Francisco, CA

Kaitlyn Shannon focuses her practice on environmental enforcement and litigation across a range of industries and issues.

She is an experienced environmental litigator and regularly appears in California state and federal courts, and she is the deputy leader of the firm’s Litigation practice group. She has experience with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), including defending against natural resource damages claims. She is also well-versed in California state-law claims, including California’s Superfund program,...

Jayni A. Lanham Environmental, Health, & Safety Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Baltimore, MD

Jayni draws on her experience with environmental, health, and safety (EHS) regimes to help clients assess risk, develop compliance strategies, and build strong legal and technical cases when faced with litigation or enforcement.

Jayni counsels companies in a variety of industries on regulatory compliance and represents them in litigation and enforcement proceedings related to a broad range of federal and state EHS laws. Jayni is a leader of Beveridge & Diamond’s Occupational Safety and Health group and has significant experience advising clients on compliance...

Mark N. Duvall Chemicals Regulation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC

Mark has over two decades of experience working in-house at large chemical companies. 

His focus is product regulation at the federal, state, and international levels across a wide range of programs, and occupational safety and health.

He leads the firm’s Chemicals group. His experience under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) includes enforcement actions, counseling, rulemaking, advocacy, and legislative actions. Since the enactment of TSCA amendments in 2016, he has been heavily involved in advocacy, compliance activity, and litigation arising from EPA's implementation...