Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill 606, set to take effect on January 1, 2022. With proponents of the bill citing the need to hold large employers accountable for COVID-related workplace hazards, SB 606 creates two new categories of employer violations. First, SB 606 creates a rebuttable presumption that if a type of violation is discovered at one particular worksite, Cal/OSHA can extrapolate that the violation is an “enterprise-wide” violation at all of the other company worksites. Additionally, SB 606 adds a new category of “egregious violations” to Cal/OSHA’s arsenal, adding a penalty multiplier for such violations. Finally, SB 606 increases Cal/OSHA’s investigative capabilities by authorizing Cal/OSHA to issue a subpoena to employers should they fail to “promptly provide” information requested during an investigation. As further explained below, the consequences of violating Cal/OSHA regulations has become significantly greater and more expensive, particularly for larger employers with multiple worksites.
ENTERPRISE-WIDE VIOLATIONS AND THE SEVERE REMEDIES THAT FOLLOW
Under SB 606, employers with more than one worksite will now face a rebuttable presumption that a violation at one location is actually “enterprise-wide” if either of the following are true:
- A written policy or procedure violates any Cal/OSHA standard, rule, order or regulation; OR
- Cal/OSHA finds evidence of a “pattern or practice” of the same violation being committed by the employer at one or more of its worksites.