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New and Updated California Workplace Safety Regulations Expected in 2020

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board continues to have a multitude of draft regulations on its plate for this coming year. Employers and trade groups will have the opportunity to influence California’s new workplace safety regulations at the advisory committee level and by attending the monthly Standards Board meetings, which will occur throughout the state. Here we highlight some of the most critical updates for California employers.

First, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) emergency regulation requiring employers to protect workers from hazards associated with wildfire smoke continues to be in effect until the agency approves a permanent regulation.

Updates for the Electrical Safety Orders are scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2020. Those new regulations impact high-voltage work in California. New tables define the minimum approach distances when working on energized parts, in particular with 121.1 KV to 800 KV, and minimum approaches for phase-to-ground and phase-to-phase distances.

Regulations for topics such as workplace violence in general industry remain in draft form but the Standards Board will likely revise and vote on  the regulations this year. This expansion of workplace violence regulations from healthcare settings to all general industries is expected to affect employers that interact with members of the public or that historically have greater incidences of workplace violence.

The new Indoor Heat Illness Standard is currently in a revised draft form subject to further revision. It expands worker protections related to high temperatures to employers’ indoor locations throughout California. Employers may want to evaluate the temperatures and environment for their employees, such as warehouse and manufacturing workers, who may not necessarily work in temperature-controlled environments. Because Cal/OSHA has traditionally zealously enforced the Outdoor Heat Illness Standards, we expect the new standard to also receive enthusiastic enforcement by inspectors.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.

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About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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Kevin Bland, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Workplace Safety and Construction Attorney
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Kevin D. Bland joined Ogletree Deakins law firm in their Orange County office in 2011. Mr. Bland provides a wealth of experience in Health and Safety.  Before he began his legal career, Mr. Bland had nearly 20 years of construction, safety, and business experience.  In 2000, he launched his legal career after graduating cum laude from Whittier School of Law. Mr. Bland holds a Contractor’s “A” License and his practice focuses primarily on safety, risk management, Cal-OSHA regulatory rulemaking, and Cal/OSHA citation appeals. He counsels and represents various industries including construction, manufacturing, motion picture and television, and various other general industry clients along with various trade associations, construction contractors, and material suppliers.

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