Annual OSHA Update: Wildfires, Air Quality, and Other Reference Information for 2020

In this year's Cal/OSHA update, our Construction Practice provides a reminder of compliance targets and activity we noted in 2019. Some of these will undoubtedly carry over into 2020. We have also included, once again, OSHA's most frequently cited standards, as well as some key reference material and training resources for your use.

The "compliance" bell keeps on ringing as 2019 was a busy year when it comes to OSHA compliance. 

sunset construction workers

In this year's Cal/OSHA update, our Construction Practice provides a reminder of compliance targets and activity we noted in 2019. Some of these will undoubtedly carry over into 2020. We have also included, once again, OSHA's most frequently cited standards, as well as some key reference material and training resources for your use. 

Wildfires and Air Quality 

Last year Cal OSHA pushed forward regulatory guidance related to all outdoor workers and wildfire smoke exposure. This language is still found in Title 8, subchapter 7 and applies to construction workers.

Employers must monitor AQI (Air Quality Index) numbers for the area their employees are working and take action if the index exceeds 150. The link below provides information and other sources you may wish to reference. Cal OSHA has issued reminders regarding this and is not likely going to forget the exposure in 2020.

OSHA Record keeping

Recordkeeping has not gotten any easier in the last several years. Further, with the introduction of electronic recordkeeping in 2018, the number of deadlines increased as did confusion around who needs to report and how. 

Woodruff Sawyer and others sent out reminders about these deadlines. This update is being published during the deadline for posting 300A summaries and just before the requirement to submit electronic reporting records.

There are some important OSHA recordkeeping deadlines approaching. Not all employers are required to keep OSHA 300 logs or report electronically. If you are required to do either or both, see the deadlines below.

  • 300 logs are supposed to be filled out and updated weekly. If that has not happened the OSHA logs need to be brought up to date. 
  • 300A summaries for 2019 OSHA recordable injuries must be posted in each establishment from the 1st of February 2020 to April 30th 2020.
  • If you are required to report electronically for one or more of your establishments, that reporting must be completed in the OSHA portal prior to March 2nd, 2020. 

Important note: All employers must report serious injuries and fatalities to OSHA regardless of partially exempt status. The following link works for all states and provides an online reporting option. If online reporting isn't available in your state, the link will provide information related to how to report in your specific state.

Most Cited OSHA Standards 

The most frequently cited standards for construction list varies only slightly year over year.

As is often the case, fall protection (code 1926.501) shows up in the top spot and accounts for 40% of fine dollars and 22% of the citation count. Rounding out the top 10 are:

This census tool provides a full breakdown and lists the standard code number for reference. To drill down to your specific type of construction work, use your NAICS number in the OSHA tool. For example: 23711, Water and Sewer Line and Related Structures Construction, shows their number one citation grouping as excavation and trenching violations. 

The OSHA Watch List

When looking at citation cases and what OSHA chooses to push into the news, the following topics should also be on your watch list: 

Cell Phone Use: Phone use via earphones is so ubiquitous that it might always seem appropriate, even when it's not.. One place that it is absolutely out of place is on construction sites. 

The OSHA letter of interpretation is worth looking into. While most contractors forbid the use of earphones on site, they may not know that OSHA backs them in that effort. While earphones are not strictly forbidden by OSHA in all cases, the letter of interpretation states that if "such use creates or augments other hazards apart from noise," the employer has a responsibility to control the exposure. 

Given the nature of construction sites, it is hard to imagine a scenario where using headphones would not create additional exposure to equipment, overhead work, or noise exposures above allowable limits. 

Silica: A recent trade release emphasizes OSHA's intent to pay close attention to silica in 2020. Target industry lists have been updated and, as you might expect, construction is still on the list as an industry. 

Valley Fever: When it comes to California, another topic construction firms should look at is Valley Fever. This news release provides a bit of background on a citation issued to a California contractor whose employees contracted Valley Fever from work exposure. 

California's Injury and Illness Prevention Plans––New Rules on Employee Access: Starting January 1, 2021, employers will be required to provide employees with access to their written Injury and Prevention Plan (IIPP) within five days of an employee's request. This article provides specific details on the rule, and how employers can best comply and avoid Cal/OSHA citations.

2020 started off with a great deal of discussion around pandemic flu outbreaks. As the Corona virus continues to spread, the discussion is intensifying. OSHA now has a pandemic flu resource on their website. In addition, Woodruff Sawyer has provided additional information for our clients. 

OSHA Resources: This list of construction related topics and resources is handy for those overseeing California construction work. The California OSHA website can be challenging at times and this listing gives you another way to search many common topics. 

Safety Training and Resources

Did you know Woodruff Sawyer offers clients an exclusive Safety Toolbox and access to ClickSafety through our online resources? In addition, exclusively for Woodruff Sawyer clients, we provide "Succeed," our Risk Management Center platform which includes safety management resources, training, and tracking aides. For more information on Succeed, contact your Woodruff Sawyer Account Executive.

Our value-added safety services contain valuable resource material for management, field supervisors, and field staff. From tailgate meeting sheets in both English and Spanish to model safety programs, resources, and links to other resources, you'll find information to support your company's safety efforts.

For further information on any of the topics addressed in this newsletter, please contact Woodruff Sawyer's Construction & Real Estate Practice at 415.391.2141.



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