California OSHA laws & safety compliance analysis

California OSHA : What you need to know

California is a “state plan” state; that is, it has its own federally approved occupational safety and health regulatory program. The Cal/OSH Act governs occupational safety and health in both the public and private (private businesses and nonprofit organizations) sector workplaces. “Public sector” includes all state and municipal operations.

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The Cal/OSH Act has adopted the federal standards in many respects and adopted numerous rules that are stricter than federal standards, including hazard communication, bloodborne pathogens, safety data sheets (SDSs), recordkeeping, and training. All California employers are required to develop and implement a written Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP); there is no equivalent federal requirement. (See the Safety Plans analysis for more information.) California also has unique standards for workplace violence in healthcare, heat stress, and several other areas that are not regulated by federal OSHA.

Cal/OSHA administers and enforces safety and health requirements in private and public sector workplaces.


Cal/OSHA is a division within the Department of Industrial Relations. Cal/OSHA protects workers from occupational hazards through its occupational safety and health rules, and the general public through its elevator, amusement ride, and pressure vessel inspection programs.

Cal/OSHA’s program offices and units include:

  • Amusement rides and tramways
  • Asbestos and carcinogens
  • Consultation services
  • Cranes
  • Elevators
  • Enforcement
  • Heat illness prevention
  • High-hazard
  • Labor Enforcement Task Force
  • Legal
  • Mining and tunneling
  • Pressure vessels
  • Process safety management
  • Research and standards

The Cal/OSH Act governs occupational ...

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