Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

California’s “Be a Manager, Go to Jail” Law

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 18, 2017

One of California’s many unique environmental, health and safety (EH&S) laws is its “Corporate Criminal Liability Act (CCLA).” CCLA provides greatly expanded potential personal criminal liabilities for violations by managers, so is often referred to as the “Be a Manager, Go to Jail” law. Enacted in 1990, CCLA draws both from occupational safety and product liability laws, to provide sweeping requirements for corporations and managers to abate or warn exposed individuals (including employees) about a broad variety of serious concealed dangers occurring in a broad variety of circumstances, including both workplaces and products. Although this law has been used by prosecutors and advocates to strike fear into the hearts of corporate managers, there have been few reported cases in its nearly three decades on the books.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental

New California Guidance For Workplace Anti-Harassment Efforts

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 27, 2017

Workplace violence prevention is increasingly recognized as one of many employer responsibilities for the safety and health of their employees. Different jurisdictions have focused on different types and degrees of “violence” – from deadly attacks to workplace rudeness and bullying. California has been a leader among U.S. jurisdictions. The state requires private employers with more than 50 employees, and all public employers, to train managers and supervisors at least every two years in how to avoid and prevent sexual harassment. Since 2015, this training must include “abusive conduct.”

Last year, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) adopted a requirement that employers with five or more employees create detailed written policies for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. This month, DFEH issued detailed guidance addressing these anti-harassment requirements. These new guidelines should be required reading for California employers, and non-California employers should take the opportunity to compare their own efforts against these recommended best practices.

What Are California’s Harassment Prevention Requirements?

Effective April 1, 2016, DFEH regulations require California employers with five or more employees to create detailed written policies for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. DFEH claims finds authority for this requirement in the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and in FEHA’s requirement that employers “take reasonable
steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace.”

Anti-harassment policies must do all of the following:

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, California Legislation, Workplace violence

Reopening Review of Automobile GHG Emission Standards For 2022-2025

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 25, 2017

The biggest difference between Presidents Obama’s and Trump’s environmental policies relate to regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that most scientists and policy-makers believe contribute to climate change – a proposition which President Trump and his appointees do not embrace. On March 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its reconsideration of GHG emission standards from “light duty” vehicles such as automobiles and small trucks, for model years 2022-2025. These standards were set in 2012 by EPA, in cooperation with the (US federal) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Three days before President Obama left office, on January 17, EPA reaffirmed the 2022-2025 standards, determining them to be technically and economically feasible for auto makers to meet and cost-effective for customers.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, ghg

California Tightens Restrictions On High-Impact Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 11, 2016

Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are more complex than they first appear. Reports in the mass media tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) focuses primarily on six GHGs, including CO2 as well as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Climate change scientists have identified hundreds of GHGs, with widely varying sources, relative contributions to climate change (numerical “global warming potential (GWP)”, where CO2 is defined as 1.0), and total contribution based on emitted volumes.

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Tags: California Legislation, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, climate change

New Rules Tighten Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

The Clean Air Act (CAA) includes extensive regulatory requirements on “mobile sources,” which cover efficiency and emissions standards for a broad range of vehicles with internal combustion engines (automobiles, buses, aircraft), “nonroad engines and vehicles” (including lawnmowers, bulldozers and marine vessels), as well as motor fuel standards intended to promote cleaner burning fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses CAA authority to set emission limits from engines, for CAA-regulated air pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) regulated for its greenhouse gas (GHG) aspects.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, climate change, CAA, Transportation

Clean Drinking Water and Proposition 65

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 15, 2016

California is a persistent exception to states’ limited abilities to create long-lasting effects on national environmental health and safety (EH&S) programs. One example, well-known here in California but relatively invisible to EH&S professionals outside the state, is Proposition 65.

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Tags: OSHA, California Legislation, EHS, Hazcom, MSDS

California Proposes Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements For Healthcare Facilities

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

Employees in the health care and social service sectors suffer workplace violence at much higher rates than in most other sectors, largely because of the higher risk from their patients and clients. In response to these risks, worker protection agencies and professional organizations have developed guidelines for workplace violence prevention in these sectors. Increasingly, worker protection laws and regulations are being revised to require these activities. Most recently, in December 2015 California has proposed to expand state requirements for security plans to include explicit workplace violence prevention programs.

Existing Requirements For Security Plans

California adopted hospital security plan requirements in 1993. Since 2010, these require state-licensed hospitals to implement security plans, including all of the following actions: Read More

Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights, California Legislation, EHS, Workplace violence

Are You Ready For Flu Season?

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Dec 16, 2015

Every winter, employee and public health officials around the world prepare for influenza (“flu”) seasons, which vary from mild to the occasional pandemic. Here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue annual forecasts of the strain(s) expected to be dominant, the severity of resulting health impacts, and of the availability and efficacy of vaccinations.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights, California Legislation

Hazardous Materials Commentary as Textbook for Professionals

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 17, 2015

For more than 25 years, I’ve taught one of the core required courses in the Hazardous Materials Management Certificate program offered by University of California Santa Cruz Extension (UCSC-Ex). The program is intended to provide professionals with a solid foundation in the principles, regulations, and technologies required to manage hazardous materials and hazardous waste. In my course–the Regulatory Framework for Toxic and Hazardous Materials–I provide overviews of:

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Tags: Audit Standards, Health & Safety, California Legislation, Training, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, mact

Cal/OSHA Updates Safety Rules for Storage Batteries

Posted by Deb Hunsicker on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

Cal/OSHA has adopted final rules, effective October 1, 2015, that update the state’s regulations relating to storage battery systems and to changing and charging storage batteries. The purpose of this action is to update standards for storage batteries to address modern types of batteries in addition to clarifying regulations applicable to traditional lead–acid batteries.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom