Since 2021, occupational safety and health agencies have enacted a variety of rules addressing the workplace hazards of the COVID-19 pandemic. Agencies have generally used their emergency authority, which allow more administrative leeway to speed enactment but then require automatic expiration within months (although re-enactments are possible). I’ve written about a number of these efforts, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “emergency temporary standard (ETS),” which was stymied by litigation (see HERE). Some states have enacted their own ETSs; California adopted its own ETS and then readopted it every 180 days in order to keep rules in force (see HERE).Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
On June 30, 2022, California governor Gavin Newsom signed state Senate Bill (SB) 54, enacting the “Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act.” The Act phases in a ban on non-recyclable single-use plastics by 2032, and requires that threshold proportions of single-use items sold as “recyclable” will actually be recycled. Its implementation will make use of “extended producer responsibility” mechanism similar to those used in California and elsewhere for other enhanced recycling programs (I’ve written about these before, most recently HERE and HERE). The new Act will be overseen by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The new Act complements a variety of other state programs, many also overseen by CalRecycle. The remainder of this note discusses SB 54’s provisions.Read More
As public and occupational health agencies around the world continuously reevaluating their responses to the developing COVID-19 pandemic, California has again weighed in on the side of continuing formal controls. Effective May 5, 2022, California has revised and extended its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) until January 1, 2023. (I wrote about the most recent previous iteration adopted in February HERE). The ETS is presented as 5 rules, which are administered by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH, but universally called Cal/OSHA). The remainder of this note summarizes these revised standards, which appear in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR):Read More
Discharges of plastics into the environment are steadily increasing, both in aggregate amounts and in associated environmental and health concerns. The United Nations has estimated that plastic debris accounts for at least 85 percent of total marine waste; an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans annually, and on current trends this will triple by 2040. In response to these concerns, the state of California is creating laws and regulations intended to reduce plastics discharges in the state. In addition to plastics recycling requirements (the state “bottle bill” and others), California has created a focus on “microplastics.” In February 2022, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) adopted a new Statewide Microplastics Strategy (the Strategy); the rest of this note provides general background on California’s approaches to plastics and microplastics, and summarizes the Strategy.
Although the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) only recommends that employers create comprehensive safety and health programs, California and a handful of other states require employers to do so. (I wrote about OSHA’s latest recommendations HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes California’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) requirements, which are administered by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH; known universally as Cal/OSHA).Read More
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been forced by court action to convert its would-be “emergency temporary standard (ETS)” under which large employers would have been required to protect unvaccinated employees from COVID-19 infections into a proposal (I wrote about the initial ETS HERE), some states can and are moving ahead with similar requirements. Notably, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH, but universally called Cal/OSHA) recently revised and renewed its own COVID-19 ETSs. The remainder of this note summarizes these standards, which cover five sections of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR):Read More
Western North America is suffering from huge wildfires this year. I’ve written pieces discussing ways to protect workplaces from fire (HERE) and to protect workers during wildfires (HERE). Today’s note discusses worker safety during cleanup after wildfires. I synthesize guidance from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California EPA (CalEPA), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).Read More
In 1987, California adopted the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act, responding to increasing concern over toxics in the air (AB 2588 (Connelly, Sterling)). This law complements California’s enforcement of national requirements governing stationary source emissions of air toxics. The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for many HAP emission sources; California incorporates HAP/NESHAP requirements into the state’s Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) / Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) program. (I discussed these requirements HERE).
Summer is wildfire season in many areas, although its importance to your workplace obviously varies. We worry more here in California than folks in New England -- as I started this note my home region around San Francisco Bay had the worst air quality on the planet during a siege of wildfires from lightning strikes. If your workplace is a downtown high rise, wildfire risks are less than if it's in a suburban office park – and if you’re telecommuting during the COVID pandemic, it may depend less on your employer’s location than where you’ve set yourself up.Read More