GSBE Weekly Update 05/02/2018
Silica citations hit 116 in 6 months
As of April 17, OSHA and state safety agencies have issued 116 violation citations under OSHA’s new silica safety rule, Bloomberg BNA reported. The regulation went into effect Sept. 23, but OSHA began full enforcement Oct. 23.
The most frequently mentioned violation involved contractors allegedly failing to measure silica levels, which was the subject of 35 citations. The was followed by 31 citations to those that did not comply with the regulation’s Table 1, which identifies 18 procedures firms can follow as an alternative to air monitoring. Despite the issuance of citations, enforcement of the rule has been limited, with contractors being tagged for silica violations as part of investigations into other unsafe jobsite conditions like inadequate fall protection. The majority of violations (80%) were classified as serious, but the highest fine imposed was $9,239 — short of the potential maximum of $12,934.
Even though OSHA postponed enforcement 30 days to allow more time for compliance, contractors still maintain that there are ambiguities and omissions in the rule that could lead to a citation. The National Association of Home Builders has submitted questions regarding the silica rule to OSHA in the hopes that the agency will beef up the compliance guidelines it posted on its website.
SB 1300 Unlawful employment practices: discrimination and harassment
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits various actions as unlawful employment practices unless the employer acts based upon a bona fide occupational qualification or applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California. In this regard, FEHA makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, apprenticeship training program, or any training program leading to employment, to engage in harassment of an employee or another specified person. FEHA also makes harassment of those persons by an employee, other than an agent or supervisor, unlawful if the entity, or its agents or supervisors, knows or should have known of this conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Under FEHA, an employer may also be responsible for the acts of nonemployees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees and other specified persons, if the employer, or its agents or supervisors, knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. An entity is required to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring. FEHA defines “employer” as any person regularly employing five or more persons, or any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, the state or any political or civil subdivision of the state, and cities, except as specified.
This bill would provide that a plaintiff in an action alleging that a defendant failed to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring, as described above, is not required to prove that the plaintiff endured harassment or discrimination and would provide that it suffices for the plaintiff to show that the employer knew that the conduct was unwelcome to the plaintiff, that the conduct would meet the legal standard for harassment or discrimination if it increased in severity or become pervasive, and that the defendant failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the same or similar conduct from recurring.