Category

Safety

Employers Must Post OSHA 300A From February 1 – April 30

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Employers covered by OSHA’s recordkeeping rule are required to prepare and post the OSHA Form 300A, “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” beginning February 1 and keep the form posted until April 30.  The form must be posted at each establishment covered, in a conspicuous place where notices to employees are customarily posted.

Prior to posting, a company executive must review the OSHA 300A and certify that “he or she has examined the OSHA 300 Log and that he or she reasonably believes, based on his or her knowledge of the process by which the information was recorded, that the annual summary is correct and complete.”

Under OSHA’s rule, a company executive can be one of the following:  (1) an owner of the company (only if the company is a sole proprietorship or partnership); (2) an officer of the corporation; (3) the highest ranking company official working at the establishment; or (4) the immediate supervisor of the highest ranking company official working at the establishment.

OSHA can cite an employer who fails to post the OSHA Form 300A as required.  Employers should take steps now to ensure they are fully compliant.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

Update on the 2018 Flu Season – What Employers Need to know

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  • As of 1/5/18, there have been 28 flu-related deaths under age 65;
  • As of 1/17/18, there have been 42 flu-related deaths under the age of 65;
  • What is mainly circulating this year is the H3N2 and tends too cause more severe disease;
  • As of 1/17/18, at least 3,269 people in the state have tested positive for the flu, however it is believed this is very much under-reported;
  • As the number of confirmed cases of influenza grows, it is important to increase employee health and safety protocols for each place of employment, including disinfection of all surfaces and continually washing hands;
  • Health officials have recommended a full seven days to stop the cycle of spreading influenza;
  • Some hospitals are starting to initiate “flu protocols”. At Loma Linda Medical Center in San Bernardino County, the medical staff has erected a triage tent outside the emergency room to handle the influx of flu patients. Some of you will remember similar protocols some years back for the H1N1;
  • Employers should review illness protocols with employees and start to address the need for additional help to cover for sick employees;
  • Start stocking up on required personal protective equipment as needed including gloves. If N95 respirators are used, please see us to assist you with meeting Cal OSHA requirements.
  • We can also assist you with flu and handwashing posters;
  • It’s not too late to get flu shots!

If you should have any questions, please contact us at 925-556-4404

For all clients with 250 or more employees or 20 or more employees in hazardous industries (this will be blogged today)- required in ALL states

By | OSHA, Public Blogs, Safety | No Comments

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated new rules effective January 1, 2017, which requiredadditional reporting of injuries and illnesses by employers with 250 or more employees or employers with 20-249 employees in “hazardous industries.” These reports will be collected through an online portal and the reports will eventually be made publicly available on OSHA’s website.

The initial reports were originally due to be submitted to OSHA by July 1, 2017. However, that date came and went with no actual way to submit the reports and a note on the OSHA website said that implementation had been delayed.

Today, OSHA launched the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) which employers will use to electronically submit injury and illness data. OSHA also announced its intent to extend the date by which employers are required to submit their reports to December 1, 2017. 

The reporting process is entirely electronic and has three different options for data submission.

1.      Users will be able to manually enter data into a web form.

2.      Users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time.

3.      Users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface).

Employers should begin reviewing the ITA instructions and other materials available on OSHA’s website to ensure that they are prepared to properly submit the data by December 1, 2017. They should also ensure that they are adequately and accurately capturing the required data.

In addition to the reporting requirements, the new OSHA rules also impacted employer policies effective January 1, 2017.  If not yet done, employers should review their policies to ensure that they do not have potential chilling effects on employee reporting of accidents and injuries, and inform employees of their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Specialist at 925-556-4404.

Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Webinar

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On Wednesday Oct 25, 2017 @ 1:00 PM, we will be offering a 45 minute webinar titled “Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training”.

How timely is this?

As fas as I know, we are the only HR/Safety/Insurance company offering such a class for employers! This webinar spans across all employment types and I am sure if we get the word out, we will have some great attendance. Some of the areas we will be discussing include:

  • Definitions
  • OSHA-involvement
  • OSHA required Injury & Illness Prevention Program and an Emergency Action Plan and documented employee training
  • Workers’ Compensation due to injuries related to workplace violence
  • Legal ramifications including heavy fines and possible criminal involvement on the part of owners and managers
  • Hostage situations
  • Robberies/Burglaries and how are they different
  • Employee Assistance Plans
  • Business recovery – Can you business  actually survive an “active shooter situation”? and
  • And some mind blowing statistics!
 
Please let me know if you should have any questions.

OSHA Top 10 Safety Violations for 2017 (Fiscal Year)

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With employers always having limited resources for safety, they would benefit from OSHA’s Top 10 violations for 2017. If the employer are going to put money towards safety, I would recommend the following areas as applicable to their business:

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501)     

6,072

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)   

4,176

3. Scaffolding (1926.451)              

3,288

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)     

3,097

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)    

2,877

6. Ladders (1926.1053) 

2,241

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

2,162

8. Machine Guarding (1910.212)               

1,933

9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503)     

1,523

10. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)          

1,405

Fall protection has led the safety violations for many years and generally include falls in excess of 8 feet.

Hazard Communication includes all those written safety plans required by law.

No matter what industry an employer is in (and some are more than one), there is a high likelihood that you have an area in OSHA’s Top 10 violations.

California High Heat Advisory: Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers Shade Must Be Made Available for Outdoor Workers

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As temperatures are projected to hit triple digits across the state with
prolonged heat waves, Cal/OSHA reminds employers with outdoor workers that shade
must be made available at all times, and must be in place when temperatures reach 80
degrees or above.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and high heat
advisories statewide, especially in inland areas. Periods of prolonged, widespread triple
digit heat is expected tomorrow through Thursday in downtown Los Angeles and much
of Southern California’s inland areas, as well as in the Bay Area, Monterey, Sacramento
and Central Valley regions.

Cal/OSHA urges workers experiencing possible overheating to take a preventative cooldown
rest in the shade until symptoms are gone. Workers who have existing health
problems or medical conditions that reduce tolerance to heat, such as diabetes, need to
be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also
increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.

Staying properly hydrated throughout the workday is one of the most effective heat
illness prevention techniques. Cal/OSHA encourages all workers to drink at least one
quart of water every hour, preferably sipping an 8-ounce cup of water every 15 minutes.
Drinks such as soda, sports drinks, coffee, energy drinks or iced tea are not
recommended for hydration. Also, the lingering effects of alcoholic beverages can
contribute to quickly dehydrating the body in hot weather.

In addition to the basic steps outlined by California’s heat regulation for employers with
outdoor workers, heat at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit requires additional
precautions. Among other measures, it is crucial that workers are actively monitored for
early signs of heat illness. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment
immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into serious illness or death.

In case a worker does get sick, supervisors and coworkers must be trained on the
emergency procedures required to ensure that the sick worker receives treatment
immediately and serious illness does not develop.
Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and
other operations throughout the heat season.

If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

7 ways to keep germs out of your workplace

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In a very busy work environment, it’s easy to become distracted and put health on the back burner.. Unfortunately, skipping healthy habits can make us more susceptible to illnesses like viral and bacterial infections. It’s not good for business when employees or their family members are sick, so here are some tips for preventing illness in the workplace.

1. Offer immunizations: Vaccines are effective at preventing illnesses like the flu and other infectious diseases. Encourage employees to keep their vaccines up to date for themselves and their families. It’s best to make immunizations as convenient and cost-effective as possible. Employers can offer on-site clinics and choose a health plan that provides vaccines at little or no cost to participants.

2. Promote healthy foods and drinks: Maintaining a healthy diet and consuming a wide variety of essential nutrients can ward off disease. Next time you are thinking about offering doughnuts for a breakfast meeting, consider a healthier option like fruit and a low-sugar, high-protein yogurt. You could also implement a healthy vending and catering policy at your organization, which requires foods offered in the workplace to meet certain nutrition standards. Additionally, our bodies are not well-equipped to fight infections when we are dehydrated. Filtered drinking water should be easily accessible at your worksite. Installing water bottle refill stations makes drinking water a convenient choice. Always offer water as a beverage option at meetings and work events, and make sure that vending machines and cafeterias stock plenty of water as well.

3. Keep food safe: How long have those leftover turkey sandwiches been sitting out in the break room? Did employees wash their hands and follow good food safety practices when preparing their prized dish for the annual pot luck? Generally speaking, after about two hours at room temperature hot and cold foods will no longer be safe to eat. Make that only one hour if your employee picnic is outside in the summer heat. To keep hot and cold foods fresh longer, they must be properly insulated with hot and cold packs to maintain a safe temperature. Wash hands and prep surfaces between tasks like handling raw proteins and preparing ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables.

4. Minimize stress: Acute and chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make you more prone to infections. Stress in the workplace can have a number of causes such as working in an environment where employees have little control and high demands. Reducing stress in the workplace not only prevents the spread of infectious diseases, but also prevents many chronic conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

5. Encourage ZZZZs: Getting the right amount of quality sleep is important for many reasons and helps with fighting off diseases. Unfortunately, about a quarter of adults report having insufficient sleep at least 15 out of every 30 days.

6. Clean work spaces: Maintain good hygiene when it comes to your workplace. Bathrooms, common areas, break rooms, phones, keyboards, desks, door handles and elevator buttons can be germ magnets. Keep the common areas clean and encourage employees to clean personal office spaces regularly. Make sure bathrooms and break rooms are always stocked with plenty of hand soap to promote good hand hygiene.

7. Have a sick policy: An employer’s sick policy can dictate whether an employee is likely to come to work or stay at home when they are contagious or not feeling well. It’s important for employees to stay at home when they are sick. Sick employees are not productive at work, and staying home prevents the spread of disease to co-workers. An employee should not feel discriminated against or scrutinized for using sick days. Supervisors should be flexible and encourage their employees to refrain from working until they are no longer contagious and are feeling better.

Implement these simple tips at your worksite for a healthier, happier workforce. If you should have any questions, please contact your HR Representative at 925-556-4404.

Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions. Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California. The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually high temperatures throughout the state, which will remain high for the rest of this week and into next week.

By | HR, OSHA, Private, Public Blogs, Safety | No Comments

Cal OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions. Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California. The National Weather Service is forecasting unusually high temperatures throughout the state, which will remain high for the rest of this week and into next week. California rules are very clear on how employers must protect their workers from heat illness.

Cal OSHA’s goal is to prevent deaths and serious illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to heat.” Special attention must be given to new employees who have not been acclimatized to working under hot conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to heat illness. They must be monitored carefully for signs of heat illness and should, if possible, be allowed to begin work earlier in the day when the temperature is lower or gradually work up to a full schedule. Many regions of the state will be reaching temperatures in the triple digits. When temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, employers are required to implement high heat procedures to ensure outdoor workers are protected.

Procedures include effective monitoring of all workers through methods such as a mandatory buddy system for workers or regular communication with workers who work alone. California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard requires employers to train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, develop emergency response procedures and train workers on how to execute those procedures when necessary. Cal OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations throughout the heat season.

A written Injury and Illness Prevention Program is required for employer who have more than 10 employees. Documented Heat Stress training is required regardless of employee size.

If you should have any questions, please contact us 925-556-4404.

Cal/OSHA Amendment Significantly Expands its Definition of “Repeat” Violations

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Effective January 1, 2017, Cal/OSHA will be utilizing a broader definition of “Repeat” violation under California’s Health and Safety Code.  This is significant for California employers because if Cal/OSHA finds a Repeat violation, the employer could initially be subject to a penalty of up to $70,000, and up to $124,709 or more when Cal/OSHA updates its penalties as required by federal OSHA.  According to OSHA, the purpose of the greater penalty for Repeat violations is to encourage an employer’s ongoing compliance with safety and health standards at all of its locations without requiring OSHA to engage in separate compliance actions at each location.  Because Cal/OSHA has always previously limited Repeat violations to a single worksite reoccurrence, and because of the forthcoming increased penalty structure, California employers will need to develop a more strategic response to any citations they receive.

In its 2013 Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation (FAME) Report, federal OSHA found that California’s enforcement of Repeat violations was lower than the federal average and noted that the policy used by the state was different and less protective than that applied by federal law.  As a result, Cal/OSHA was directed to amend California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 334(d), to be consistent with the definition of a Repeat violation as used by Federal OSHA.

Currently, a Repeat violation is defined in section 334(d), as a violation where an employer has corrected, or indicated correction of, an earlier violation for which a citation was issued and, upon a subsequent inspection within three years, Cal/OSHA finds that the employer has recommitted the same violation.  For employers with fixed establishments, section 334(d) currently limits Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue a repeat citation to the cited establishment, which means that both the underlying and the subsequent violation must have occurred at the same work site or address.

Now, however, California employers will be subject to a much broader definition of Repeat violation.  Specifically, Cal/OSHA amended section 334(d) by:

  1. Expanding the “look back” period of a Repeat violation from three years to five years.
  2. Defining a Repeat violation as a substantially similar violation.
  3. Increasing the geographic scope of a Repeat violation to any violation in the state.

Cal/OSHA Will Now Look Back Five Years

The current three-year look-back period of a Repeat violation begins to run on the date of the conduct giving rise to the violation.  But, if the employer appeals the citation, the appeal prevents the citation from becoming final, and a final citation is necessary for a Repeat violation to be found.  As the three-year clock runs from the date of the conduct, the employer could minimize its chance of a Repeat violation by appealing every citation issued.

Cal/OSHA’s amendment eliminated an employer’s incentive to appeal solely to shorten or exhaust the look-back period.  Now, the starting time for calculating the period begins at either:

  • the date of the final order affirming the existence of a previous violation cited in the underlying citation;
  • the date on which the underlying citation becomes final by operation of law; or
  • the date of final abatement of the violation cited in the underlying citation.

Cal/OSHA also expanded the window of time for a Repeat violation from three years to five years, which is a policy change that federal OSHA made in 2010.1

Cal/OSHA Will Now Consider Substantially Similar Violations

Cal/OSHA currently defines a Repeat violation as occurring when the employer has corrected, or indicated correction of an earlier violation, for which a citation was issued, and upon a later inspection is found to have committed the same violation again.

Cal/OSHA amended the rule to broadly allow it to find a Repeat violation for a violation of a “substantially similar” regulatory requirement. This change places Cal/OSHA directly in line with federal OSHA.  The “substantially similar” standard is the language used by federal OSHA but is not officially defined by Cal/OSHA.  Federal OSHA also does not have a regulatory definition of “substantially similar” but the term has been interpreted in policy documentation and numerous citation appeal decisions.  As the term is undefined, employers will have some opportunity to influence the interpretation of what constitutes substantially similar violations supporting a Repeat violation in California, but this may be one area where the state adopts the federal interpretation.  The greater scope naturally increases the frequency at which a Repeat violation could be issued.

Cal/OSHA Will Now Consider Statewide Violations

The current rule defining the geographic scope of Repeat violations is that the later citation must involve the same factory, store, or other fixed establishment that was previously cited.  But, for field sanitation standards, a Repeat violation is any subsequent violation state-wide, on the theory that farm labor contractors work up and down the state during a short span of time and, thus, violations at different sites in California are akin to Repeat violations.

Cal/OSHA eliminated the difference between field sanitation and other industries and removed the geographical restrictions that currently limit a Repeat violation to a specific facility or store.  In other words, in determining whether to cite the employer for a Repeat violation, Cal/OSHA will consider any violation in the state as opposed to violations at a specific location.  Thus, for example, if Cal/OSHA finds a violation at a facility in Los Angeles, and if the employer has facilities in Sacramento and San Francisco, the agency will determine whether citations for substantially similar violations were issued at the facilities in those two cities.

Implications for Employers

Starting in 2017, California employers can no longer focus solely on the financial implications of settling a citation or contesting it.  Employers will have to be more strategic in their response.  Because the Repeat classification and increased penalties are not directly limited to Serious violations, employers will even have to consider their acceptance or appeal of General and Regulatory citations.

Employers can initially focus even more attention on preventing workplace safety violations through comprehensive programs.  However, if an employer receives a citation, it should carefully evaluate whether simply paying the citation is the best strategy and also should immediately determine whether it is in compliance with other standards that are “substantially similar” to the one for which it was cited at all of its California facilities.  This increased focus will raise the cost of abatement for employers that do decide to accept a citation because they will need to ensure abatement at all of their locations to avoid future Repeat violations with their substantial penalties.  Overall, this change will undoubtedly lead to more litigation over Cal/OSHA citations as employers will need to manage their citation history to avoid future Repeat violations occurring over a five-year period.

Cal/OSHA Adopts First in the Nation Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare Employers

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National research indicates that health care workers are at a substantially higher risk of workplace violence than the average worker in another industry.  According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), from 2002 to 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average.1  Patients are the largest source of violence in healthcare settings, followed by visitors or co-workers, and surveys show that many incidents go unreported.

On October 21, 2016, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) unanimously passed a new General Industry Safety Order entitled “Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care” (Standard).2  The Office of Administrative Law approved the Standard on December 8, 2016.  The Standard is codified at Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

Coverage

Although Senate Bill 1299 only required a standard for hospitals, the Standards Board went further and the standard applies to any “health facility,” which is defined very broadly to mean “any facility, place, or building that is organized, maintained, and operated for the diagnosis, care, prevention, or treatment of human illness, physical or mental, including convalescence and rehabilitation and including care during and after pregnancy, or for any one or more of these purposes, for one or more persons, to which the persons are admitted for a 24-hour stay or longer.”3

The Standard also applies to home health care and home-based hospices, emergency medical services and medical transports, drug treatment programs and outpatient medical services to those incarcerated in correctional and detention settings.  The Standard will not apply to certain state-run health facilities.

The Standard Broadly Defines “Workplace Violence”

“Workplace violence” means any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs at the work site.  The term workplace violence shall not include lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others.  Workplace violence includes the following:

1.         The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury;

2.         An incident involving the threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury;

3.         Four workplace violence types:

  • “Type 1 violence” means workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the work site, and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace with the intent to commit a crime.
  • “Type 2 violence” means workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors or other individuals accompanying a patient.
  • “Type 3 violence” means workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  • “Type 4 violence” means workplace violence committed in the workplace by someone who does not work there, but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Healthcare employers covered by the Standard are now required to establish, implement and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan (Plan), which must be in effect at all times and in every unit, service or operation.  The Plan must be in writing, be specific to the hazards and corrective measures for the unit, service, or operation, and be available to employees at all times.  The written Plan may be incorporated into the employer’s written IIPP or maintained as a separate document.

The Plan must include the following:

  • Names or job titles of the persons responsible for implementing the Plan;
  • Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and their representatives in developing, implementing, and reviewing the Plan, including their participation in identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards, designing and implementing training, and reporting and investigating workplace violence incidents;
  • Methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the Plan with other employers whose employees work in the same health care facility, service, or operation, to ensure that those employers and employees understand their respective roles as provided in the Plan;
  • Effective procedures for obtaining assistance from the appropriate law enforcement agency during all work shifts;
  • Effective procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report;
  • Procedures to ensure that supervisory and non-supervisory employees comply with the Plan;
  • Procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters;
  • Procedures to develop and provide training to employees that addresses workplace violence risks employees are reasonably anticipated to encounter on the job;
  • Assessment procedures to identify and evaluate environmental and community-based risk factors for each facility, unit, service, or operation, which shall include a review of all workplace violence incidents that occurred in the facility, service, or operation within the previous year, whether or not an injury occurred;
  • Procedures to identify and evaluate patient-specific risk factors and assess visitors or other persons who are not employees;
  • Procedures to correct workplace violence hazards in a timely manner; and
  • Procedures for post-incident response and investigation.

The Standard describes in great detail the procedures that must be addressed within each of these topics.

At least annually, the employer is required to review the effectiveness of the Plan and correct any problems.  The annual review must include employees and their representatives and address the employees’ respective work areas, services and operations.  The Standard sets out numerous additional items the employer must consider when reviewing the Plan, including, among other things, staffing, sufficiency of security systems and job design and equipment.

Violent Incident Log

Healthcare employers will be required to record in a “violent incident log” every incident, post-incident response, and workplace violence injury investigation with descriptive details.  The employer must review the log as part of its annual review of the Plan.

The log must contain, at a minimum, the following items:

  • The date, time, specific location, and department of the incident;
  • A detailed description of the incident;
  • A classification of who committed the violence;
  • A classification of circumstances at the time of the incident;
  • A classification of where the incident occurred;
  • The type of incident;
  • The consequences of the incident; and
  • Contact and other information about the person completing the log.

As with the Plan, the Standard describes in the detail the specific information that must be included for each item.

Training

The Standard requires healthcare employers to provide training to employees designed to address the workplace violence risks that employees are reasonably anticipated to encounter in their jobs.  The employer must have an effective procedure for obtaining the active involvement of employees and their representatives in developing training curricula and training materials, participating in training sessions, and reviewing and revising the training program.

The Standard requires that training be conducted at various times, including:

  • when the Plan is first established and when an employee is newly hired or newly assigned to perform duties for which the training was not previously provided;
  • when new equipment or work practices are introduced; and
  • when a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard has been identified.

The Standard requires the initial training to address the workplace violence hazards identified in the facility, unit, service or operation, and the corrective measures the employer has implemented.  The initial training also must include:

  • An explanation of the employer’s Plan, including the employer’s hazard identification and evaluation procedures, general and personal safety measures the employer has implemented, how the employee may communicate concerns about workplace violence without fear of reprisal, how the employer will address workplace violence incidents, and how the employee can participate in reviewing and revising the Plan;
  • How to recognize the potential for violence, factors contributing to the escalation of violence and how to counteract them, and when and how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence;
  • Strategies to avoid physical harm;
  • How to recognize alerts, alarms, or other warnings about emergency conditions such as mass casualty threats and how to use identified escape routes or locations for sheltering, as applicable;
  • The role of private security personnel, if any;
  • How to report violent incidents to law enforcement;
  • Any resources available to employees for coping with incidents of violence, including, but not limited to, critical incident stress debriefing or employee assistance programs; and
  • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s workplace violence prevention plan.

Annual refresher training also is required for employees performing patient contact activities as well as their supervisors.

In addition, employees assigned to respond to alarms or other notifications of violent incidents or whose assignments involve confronting or controlling persons exhibiting aggressive or violent behavior must be provided training on numerous topics prior to initial assignment and at least annually thereafter, including strategies to prevent physical harm, aggression violence predicting factors and characteristics of aggressive and violent patients and victims.

Reporting Requirements for Certain Hospitals

In addition to the above requirements, the Standard requires general acute care hospitals, acute psychiatric hospitals, and special hospitals to report to Cal/OSHA any incident involving either of the following:

  • The use of physical force against an employee by a patient or a person accompanying a patient that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury (as that term is defined in Cal/OSHA’s regulations requiring the reporting of other types of injuries or illnesses).
  • An incident involving the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, regardless of whether an employee sustains an injury.

All reports must be made within 72 hours, except that the report must be made within 24 hours if the incident:

  • results in a fatality or an injury that requires inpatient hospitalization for at least 24 hours for other than medial observation or in which an employee suffers a loss of a limb or suffers any serious degree of permanent disfigurement;
  • involves the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon; or
  • presents an urgent or emergent threat to the welfare, health, or safety of hospital personnel, which means that hospital personnel are exposed to a realistic possibility of death or serious physical harm.

The Standard describes the information that must be included in the report.  Cal/OSHA will implement an online system for employers to report the information.  These reports do not relieve the healthcare employer from making reports that may be required by other Cal/OSHA regulations.  Employers can expect that these reports will result in a significant number of new non-formal and on-site inspections.

Recordkeeping

The Standard will require healthcare employers to maintain various records, including records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction, training records, and records of violent incidents.  Records must be made available to employees and their representatives, as well as Cal/OSHA, upon request.

Next Steps for Employers

The Standard is effective on April 1, 2017, which means that California healthcare employers have less than four months to get in full compliance with these onerous requirements.  Cal/OSHA’s Standard is a first of its kind at the federal and state level, although Federal OSHA is proceeding with a rulemaking and will hold a public hearing on January 10, 2017.

At a minimum, employers covered by the Standard should immediately consider:

  • Gathering records of all incidents of workplace violence (with or without injury) from the previous year;
  • Reviewing all existing policies, programs, and training addressing elements of workplace violence prevention;
  • Conducting the required assessments for each workplace;
  • Drafting and implementing a new written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, which addresses the numerous topics enumerated in the Standard;
  • Creating training programs for all employees that effectively advise of any workplace violence risks that may arise in a healthcare environment and in the employees’ particular work area; and
  • Establishing a record retention program for training and any incident that could be viewed as an incident of workplace violence, even if no injury resulted.

Employers should also review the significant privacy issues raised by the Standard, and with the advice of privacy attorneys, develop an appropriate policy addressing concerns which may arise in keeping records, reporting incidents to Cal-OSHA, and handling inspections of this Standard.

Should you have any questions, please contact your representative at HR Ideas.