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. 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, inspections, material safety data sheets (MSDSs), penalties, recordkeeping, and training. See the state sections HAZARD COMMUNICATION STANDARD, INSPECTIONS, MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET, ENFORCEMENT, RECORDKEEPING, and TRAINING for more information.

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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, aerial tramway, ski lift, and pressure vessel inspection programs.

Cal/OSHA's program offices and units include:

  • Aerial trams
  • Amusement rides
  • Asbestos
  • Carcinogens
  • Construction
  • Consultation services
  • Cranes
  • Elevators
  • Enforcement
  • Lead
  • Pressure vessels
  • Research and Education
  • Tunnels
  • Mines

The Cal/OSH Act governs occupational safety for 13 million workers at several thousand establishments. The law applies to all private and public sector workplaces and activities involved in interstate commerce regardless of the number of employees. The law covers workplaces in general industry, ...

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