California clarifies its definition of 'serious' violation

A new California law clarifies the definition of a "serious" citation, as well as the procedures for issuing such a citation and for the appeals process.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed AB 2774 into law Sept. 30; it is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. The bill was introduced in March.

According to a statement from John C. Duncan, California's Department of Industrial Relations director, the old definition of a serious citation made it difficult for the state to prove a serious violation had occurred.

Last month, federal OSHA released a review (.pdf file) of the state's occupational safety and health program, commonly known as Cal/OSHA. Among the report's recommendations were that Cal/OSHA create definitions for serious violations that are consistent with federal definitions.

The report also criticized a perceived low rate of serious violations Cal/OSHA has issued, a critique the state agency disputed in its response (.pdf file) to the report. The rate of serious violations in California has fallen over the years, and a low rate suggests Cal/OSHA is effective in bringing about employer compliance, the state agency said.

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