In a webinar entitled 'Safety Audit and Compliance Management:
Practical Strategies for Avoiding OSHA Citation Landmines Under Both State and Federal Law,' attorney James T. Dufour, CIH, REA, of Dufour Law & Regulatory Compliance and Dufour Seminars & Training discussed legal issues surrounding safety audits.
The 1970 Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSH Act) established the federal OSHA program but permitted states to implement state OSHA programs that are federal OSHA-approved and, in part, federally funded. Twenty-one states have established state OSHA programs for private sector workplaces. States with approved OSHA plans can use federal OSHA standards or adopt their own standards that are at least as strict.
California is one state plan state that expands federal standards. Criminal liability is different in Federal OSHA and California OSHA standards. In terms of criminal liability for a willful violation that causes death or serious injury to an employee, Fed/OSHA can impose imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $70,000 for a death. In California death or serious injury carries up to three years imprisonment, fines for individual managers/supervisors of up to $250,000, and corporate fines of up to $1.5 million. Cal/OSHA has strict criminal sanctions (felony prosecution) for violations that cause death or serious injury, much stricter than Fed/OSHA sanctions.
Compared to Fed/OSHA, there are unique state standards (like Injury and Illness Prevention and Ergonomics), many more specification standards that are more detailed than federal performance standards, and some permissible exposure levels (PELs) that are much less than (stricter than) federal PELs.
Attorney James T. Dufour, CIH, REA, of Dufour Law & Regulatory Compliance and Dufour Seminars & Training can be reached at 916-553-3111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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