Note that while most workplace safety violations are enforced with civil penalties (fines) against a company, an individual manager or owner can be charged with a crime for a willful violation of a safety standard that leads to the death of an employee; if convicted, they can be fined and imprisoned.
Regulatory violations are those that relate to permit requirements, posting of required notices, improper record-keeping, and reporting of injuries and illnesses.
Penalty amounts range from about $500 to $12,500 for most general regulatory violations, with certain types having a higher minimum fine.
Violations of OSHA standards that directly expose employees to harm, but not serious levels of harm.
The maximum penalty amount is about $12,500.
Violations of OSHA standards that directly expose employees to serious harm.
Penalty amounts range from $18,000 to $25,000.
Violation of an OSHA standard within five years of having been previously cited for a violation of the same or similar regulation.
Penalty amounts will be multiplied by two for the first repeat violation, multiplied by four for the second repeat violation, and multiplied by ten for the third repeat violation, up to a total amount of about $125,000.
Circumstances where evidence shows the employer knew they were violating OSHA regulations and were aware of a hazard, but made no reasonable efforts to correct the safety problem.
Initial penalty amounts will be multiplied by five, up to a total amount of about $125,000.
Failure to Abate Violations
If an employer fails to address a hazard after the deadline given by Cal/OSHA, additional penalties may be added of up to $15,000 for each day the hazard goes uncorrected.
The hepatitis A virus is primarily transmitted through oral contact with something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. This can happen through direct contact with the person, or indirect contact with an object (including food or water) that has been contaminated.
What are the Symptoms of an Infection
Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, yellow color in the eyes, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, and pale feces. Keep in mind that not every infected person will show these symptoms, and most of these symptoms could also match a number of other illnesses, some minor, some deadly.
What Workers are Most at Risk
The majority of persons infected in San Diego's current outbreak have been homeless and/or illicit drug users. However, this does not mean others are not at risk, or that someone with Hepatitis A is an illicit drug user.
From a workplace practice perspective, the biggest exposure risks for Hepatitis A are to the following employee classes:
- Those who travel or commute to and from counties with moderate or high risk of hepatitis A. Per the Center for Disease Control, this currently includes all parts of the world except
the United States, Canada, western Europe and Scandinavia, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.
- Workers who do cleaning and housekeeping as a main job duty, such as housekeeping or janitorial staff.
- Workers who do cleaning as an occasional job duty, such as construction workers cleaning a new jobsite, or maintenance staff cleaning equipment before service.
- First responders who may have contact with an ill or injured person. This includes employees trained in first aid, who may volunteer to help if there is a workplace emergency.
Keep in mind, risks to individual workers is different than the financial risk a business may face due to a hepatitis outbreak. For example, demographics aside, the job of being a food service worker isn't as high risk for the employee as some other occupations, but Hepatitis A spread by a food worker can affect non-employee members of the public, and significantly impact a businesses operations. Hospitality and food service establishments should be particularly vigilant in order to protect not only their employees, but their customers, and business reputation.
What are the Best Practices to Reduce Hepatitis A Risk?
There are many specific work practices and safety measures to reduce Hepatitis A risk, but the most important for all industries and workers are:
- Proper hand hygiene. Clean hands frequently using lots of soap and warm water, or hand sanitizer (if hands are not visibly dirty).
- Obtain the Hepatitis A vaccine (or verify previous vaccination). A very simple, two-shot series available at no cost to most people.
- County of San Diego Public Health Information
Information on San Diego outbreak, Hep A Info, Printable Education Flyers
- Center for Disease Control Viral Hepatitis Information
Research, statistics and best practices for Hepatitis A Infection
- Center For Disease Control Hand Hygiene Information
"Clean Hands Save Lives" campaign into, videos and posters
Unlike respirator fit testing and training, which must be done annually, OSHA standards do not set a time-based renewal period for the medical evaluations. According to Cal/OSHA §5144(e) and Federal OSHA 1910.134(e) , medical evaluations must be redone if:
- An employee reports medical signs or symptoms that are related to ability to use a respirator
- A healthcare provider, supervisor, or the respirator program administrator informs the employer that an employee needs to be reevaluated
- Information from the respiratory protection program, including observations made during fit testing and program evaluation, indicates a need for employee reevaluation
- A change occurs in workplace conditions (e.g., physical work effort, protective clothing, temperature) that may result in a substantial increase in the physiological burden placed on an employee.
However, we recommended that employers develop a time-based renewal interval for medical evaluation questionaries. The criteria stated above for redoing the initial evaluation wont account for changing work conditions that aren't noted, and problems employees don't report or supervisors don't notice. In addition, even without any "red flags," the health condition of workers will decline over time due to the natural aging process.
One year is the best and simplest renewal interval, as it would fit with the renewal of fit tests and respirator safety training. However, based on the nature of work, type of respiratory protection, and workforce demographics, other longer intervals may be reasonable. Most employees will not voluntarily disclose a health problem to their employer. However, if done correctly, regular interval medical evaluation questionaries provide them an opportunity to report such health problems confidentially, and to speak with a healthcare provider with any questions or concerns. In addition, regular medical evaluation questionaries are used by employers as "cheap insurance" so that if an employee should develop (or allege to have developed) a medical problem due to respirator use, but they did not report that problem on a medical questionnaire, it reduces the legal burden on the employer.
Keep in mind that this article is only in regards to the medical evaluation questionaries for OSHA's general respiratory protection standards. We always encourage employers to exceed that standard by sending employees for physical evaluations and/or pulmonary function tests before respirator use, as this will provide a more robust assessment of their health than a questionnaire. Also remember that some high-hazard contaminants have their own standards which may require more extensive or frequent medical evaluations beyond what is required for general respirator use.
Elimination-Getting rid of the hazard completely
Substitution-Change to a safety alternative for completing the task
Engineering Controls-Isolate the worker from the hazard
Administrative Controls-Change how a task is done or scheduled to make it safer
PPE-Have a worker use Personal Protective Equipment for protection from the hazard
Consider for example a work task that involves exposure to an airborne contaminant, like using a strong solvent to clean a part.
Elimination would get rid of the task completely, by getting rid of the need to clean the part somehow, or outsourcing that task to another company.
Substitution-The task would still be done, but using a solvent that's safer and less harmful to workers
Engineering Controls-Clean the part in a ventilated cabinet, or use fans or vacuums to remove contaminants from the air
Administrative Controls-Change the way the work is done, like brushing on the solvent instead of spraying it on, so less airborne contaminants are created) or provide the employee with training on how to minimize exposure
PPE-Have them employee wear a respirator
The controls higher on the list tend to be the most effective, and the least prone to failure. They often do cost more to implement, but in the long run, once in place, can save money. In reality, most situations will require a combination of approaches. The most important point is to focus on eliminating or reducing the hazard as much as possible before relying on worker PPE (personal protective equipment).
Unfortunately, urban legends about lawsuits and exaggerated claims about liability risks prevent many persons from helping during an emergency. Other common reasons for not performing CPR included being afraid of hurting the person (which usually links to fears about legal liability), being overwhelmed by the complexity of CPR, and not having up-to-date training. Any good training course should teach attendees to manage liability risks, and for laypersons, should emphasize simple, effective compression-only CPR, which has similar survival rates when compared to CPR done in the traditional way with a combination of compressions and rescue breaths.
Effective CPR compressions boost cardiac arrest survival rates to about fifteen percent. While that may not sound like much, consider that the survival rate without CPR is about five percent. Use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) can boost survival rates to over 50 percent. An AED can restart the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. Some workplaces have invested in these lifesaving devices, but don't have employees adequately trained in their use. Another American Heart Association survey revealed that in workplaces with AEDs, more than half of the employees don't even know where the AED is, nevermind how to use it. While every employee need not be trained in how to use these devices, they should all be familiar with them, and be able to retrieve one in an emergency to assist a trained employee.
When a person's heart stops beating, every minute counts. Relying on 911 to rescue the victim is a losing proposition...95% of victims will die if the only "help" given is a phone call. However, if a bystander can begin chest compressions, and an onsite AED is deployed, survival rates are over 50%. Few companies are making the investment in proper training and equipment to enable these sorts of survival rates. Paradoxically, some are investing in defibrillators (which generally cost over $1,500), but then not following up with effective employee training and education.
While certain accidents, like an electrical injury, can precipitate cardiac arrest, the problem is not one that necessarily limits itself to high hazard industries. In fact, with the elevated risk of cardiovascular problems caused by sedentary office work, combined with an aging workforce, high density office environments are perfect candidates for a workplace CPR and AED program. When weighed against the cost of either permanently or temporarily replacing an employee, the cost of training employees and providing an AED can be a bargain. Several years ago, we provided a defibrillator and first aid/cpr training for a small financial services firm, at a cost of over $3,00 dollars. We congratulated the management team on making the investment for the benefit of their employees. Their operations manager confessed that what ultimately led to the program being implemented was a simple cost-benefit analysis; the unexpected loss of any of their key personnel would easily cost the company tens of thousands of dollars...having a program in place to increase the odds of survival after an injury or an accident just made good financial sense.
First, remember that there is no regulation, licensing or certification of fire extinguisher training providers by Cal/OSHA or any other government agency. You should do your due diligence in selecting qualified providers, and evaluate overall value, not just cost.
Second, a key benefit of workplace fire extinguisher training is business continuity and profitability. If employees can use an extinguisher correctly to put out a small fire before it becomes a big fire, it saves product, equipment and buildings. However, they should also understand when it would not be safe to try and fight a fire, and know the limitations of portable extinguishers. A good training class will meet both these objectives.
Here are two important questions to ask potential vendors.
Who is doing the training and what is their background?
Knowing how to service extinguishers is a different skillset than training others to use them to safely put out fires. Make sure the class will be taught by an instructor experienced in workplace training, not just an extinguisher service technician who will occasionally teach a class with a video or powerpoint.
How is the hands-on portion done?
OSHA requires that fire extinguisher training include a hands-on component. Avoid vendors who do an extinguisher “demonstration” that attendees just get to observe, or where only a portion of attendees get to participate. Everyone should get to practice deploying an extinguisher.
The specific method used for the hands-on portion is also important. While a pan of diesel or gasoline and some dry chemical extinguishers provide a realistic training experience, it creates the hazard of a large pan of burning liquid in the workplace, and the residue from the powder chemical extinguishers will spread to surrounding areas of the parking lot, and can also create stormwater runoff/contamination and respiratory irritation in employees. A better alternative is modern propane-fueled training systems with a safe, clean-burning flame that can be controlled remotely, and water-charged extinguishers. Digital training systems are another alternative that use a simulated flame and extinguishers projecting a laser beam at sensors to evaluate attendee performance.
It's worth taking the time to learn the details of the training methods used by each vendor, and speak with the instructor who will be presenting the training to evaluate their qualifications. For companies in San Diego, contact us to learn more about our fire extinguisher training classes . Course instructors all have 5 or more years of adult training experience, and a background in incipient-stage firefighting, and our trainings use propane-powered, electronically controlled burners and water-charged extinguishers.
Categories of Flammable Liquids
There are different rules for different types of flammable liquids. They are divided into categories, based on flash point and boiling point. Flash point is lowest temperature at which vapors of the material will ignite, when given an ignition source. A lower flash point is more dangerous than a higher one. Boiling point is the temperature at which a liquid turns to a vapor. A lower boiling point is more dangerous than a higher one. You can look at the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for a chemical to find out what the flash point and boiling point is.
- Category 1: Flashpoints below 73.4 °F (23 °C) and having a boiling point at or below 95 °F (35 °C).
- Category 2: Flashpoints below 73.4 °F (23 °C) and having a boiling point above 95 °F (35 °C).
- Category 3: Flashpoint at or above 73.4 °F (23 °C) and at or below 140 °F (60 °C).
- Category 4: Flashpoints above 140 °F (60 °C) and at or below 199.4 °F (93 °C).
- Category Other ("Combustible"): Flashpoint above 199.4 °F (93 °C)
These limits apply for most employers such as shops, offices, laboratories, or retail. Different requirements exist for warehouses ( §5540 ) and hotels and other large occupancy locations ( §5537 ).
When you have more than a certain total amount of flammable liquids, you must store them in safety cabinet meeting NFPA requirements. Storage in a cabinet is required if you have:
- Over 60 gallons of any category liquid
- Over 10 gallons of a category 1, 2, or 3 liquid, if stored in regular containers.
- Over 25 gallons of a category 1, 2, or 3 liquid, if stored in safety cans.
Whether they are in a cabinet or not, no container for Category 1, 2 or 3 flammable liquids shall exceed a capacity of one gallon, except that safety cans can be two gallons.
Whether they are in a cabinet or not, flammable liquids should never be stored where they would limit or compromise the use of any emergency exit routes.
Not more than 120 gallons of Category 1, 2, 3 and 4 flammable liquids may be stored in a storage cabinet. Of this total, not more than 60 gallons may be of Category 1, 2 and 3 flammable liquid.
Not more than three cabinets may be located in a single fire area, except that in industrial operations, additional cabinets may be located in the same fire area if the additional cabinet, or group of not more than three cabinets, is separated from any other cabinets or group of cabinets by at least 100 feet.
While the regulations for flammable liquid storage may seem confusing, consider that every employer is already required to have Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for almost all chemicals in the workplace. Based on that information, you can categorize what you have and see what the storage requirements are. Basically, the more flammable the chemical, the less of it you can have. One thing some employers do to simplify things is to apply the stricter category 1, 2, and 3 requirements to all categories of flammable liquids, so there's less of a need to differentiate between the different categories, and the amounts of each you have.
While prevention is the most important thing, if a person begins suffering from heat-related illness, you must act fast! Here's the most current research from the Safewest first aid curriculum.
Heat exhaustion can happen when a person is working hard or exercising in the heat and their body is having a difficult time coping with the elevated temperature.
You will usually see the following symptoms:
- Heavy sweating
- Feeling tired or dizzy
- Muscle cramps, especially in the torso and legs
First Aid measures for heat exhaustion are relatively simple, and involve moderate cooling measures. As with any first aid situation, make sure the scene is safe before rushing in to help anyone.
- Have the person lie down in a cool, shady place.
- Remove any heavy outer clothing, protective equipment and shoes.
- Wipe the victim’s exposed skin with cool, wet cloths.
- Fan or move victim to air conditioned room.
- Offer sips of an electrolyte drink or water.
If a person suffering from heat exhaustion doesn't get help, they can suffer from a more serious condition called heat stroke. With heat stroke, the body can no longer maintain a normal temperature, and begins overheating. This is potentially deadly, and you will have to act fast.
A person suffering from heat stroke will have many of the same symptoms as a person with heat exhaustion, but the important difference is the effect on their mental status. If they're getting so hot that their brain is affected, you will see symptoms like:
- Seizures or hallucinations
- Confusion or disorientation
- Irritability and personality changes
- Uncoordinated, Difficulty walking well
- Not responding/unconscious
First Aid for heat stroke involves rapidly and aggressively cooling the person. As always, make sure the scene is safe before helping with any emergency. First, if you suspect heat stroke, call or have someone call 911 or your emergency response number immediately, then begin the following steps.
- Move the victim to a cooler environment, such as indoors, shade or an air-conditioned vehicle.
- Remove clothing down to underclothes.
- Reduce body temperature with a cold bath or sponging.
- If you have ice bags or instant ice packs available, these can be placed at the sides of the neck, at the groin, under the armpits and behind the knees to help cool the body.
- Use fans and air conditioners.
Many proactive employers are already meeting or exceeding these requirements, but this is a good opportunity to:
-Provide formal comments to Cal/OSHA about these new regulations.
-Get an idea about what new regulations may be coming that could affect your industry.
-Use the proposed regulation as a way to check your own existing safety programs for your housekeeping staff.
Keep in mind that these proposed regulations are requiring an injury and illness prevention program specific to housekeeping staff, but every employer should already be evaluating and mitigating workplace hazards for every employee position.
For San Diego employers, we offer first aid/cpr classes, hazard communication training, bloodborne pathogens, active shooter courses and more, conducted onsite at your hotel or resort property.
First, evaluate the types of tasks employees perform, and identify any job duties that might result in a chemical exposure to the eyes or body. This exposure could be either during routine tasks or forseeable emergencies. Make a list of these chemicals.
Second, evaluate the chemicals themselves by reading the safety data sheet, or consulting the manufacturer. Identify if these chemicals can cause any of the following: corrosion, severe irritation, permanent tissue damage, toxicity by absorbtion. If so, you will need an eyewash station and/or shower.
Third, select the correct equipment. If the potential exposure is to the eyes, an eyewash station should be provided. If the potential exposure is to the body, a safety shower should be provided. If both an eyewash and shower are needed, they should be located so they can be used at the same time by the same person. This equipment must comply with certain requirements (look for ANSI Z358.1 compliant products); just having a sink, hose or regular shower nearby doesn't count. The equipment should be installed in an area that is unobstructed, no more than ten seconds from the hazard, provide at least 15 minutes of flow, and be tested/inspected regularly.