Cal/OSHA Update: More “paperwork” required for larger furniture retailers

It’s not a suggestion anymore. Cal/OSHA, California’s occupational safety and health agency, now requires that many employers file summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses electronically by December 31. Furniture retailers are among the covered businesses.

The rule applies to companies with 250 or more employees, except for those exempted here and those with 20 to 249 employees in categories listed here. Home furnishings stores are included.

The form is 300A, an annual summary of incidents. The filing covers the 2017 calendar year and requires employers to list the numbers of work-related deaths, injuries, skin disorders, respiratory conditions, poisonings, cases of hearing loss and all other illnesses at their facilities. They also must report total numbers of lost workdays or incidents leading to job transfers or work restrictions.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates this reporting, but Cal/OSHA, which administers worker safety programs in California, did not before now. California businesses that didn’t comply faced no penalty from state enforcers. Now they could receive a citation if they don’t have the 300A on file – but likely only if an inspection is triggered by a serious accident or employee complaint, according to Frank Polizzi, a public information officer for the state’s Department of Industrial Relations.

Covered employers are directed to file the form 300A through the federal OSHA portal, which can be found here. Those who need help should call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Line at 800-963-9424. Operators can talk them through the process, Polizzi said.

Why is the extra electronic “paperwork” necessary? Employers have reason to wonder, especially since they already meet other OSHA reporting requirements. Federal OSHA documents say the agency uses injury and illness numbers to trigger comprehensive worksite inspections, the Seyfarth Shaw LLP law firm wrote October 22 on its Workplace Safety and Environmental Law Alert Blog. But Polizzi, with the California Department of Industrial Relations, said that won’t happen in the Golden State. Rather, inspections respond to serious incidents and employee complaints, he said.

The annual reports will be public records, making it easier for consumers, competitors or the media to see covered businesses’ workplace safety data.

The California reporting mandate technically covers only the 2017 calendar year – for now. The state is pursuing a permanent requirement and will seek public comments and hold a public hearing before finalizing the rule. The details aren’t available yet but will be posted here, Polizzi said.

Employers who object to the additional reporting should watch for the chance to express their concerns.

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