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On August 30, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 1804, which requires employers to immediately report any serious occupational illness, injury, or death to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, by telephone or by an online mechanism to be established for this purpose.  The online mechanism has yet to be created as of this writing. You can go to the following page: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/report-accident-or-injury.html.  Employers may report by telephone or email.  Upon entering a zip code or city on the site, it will provide you with a telephone number to your local regional enforcement office.  Failure to report is subject to a $5,000 civil penalty.  This new law becomes effective on January 1, 2020.

Prior to 2015, Labor Code § 6409.1(b) required employers to file a report of serious injury or death by “telephone or telegraph.” In 2014, AB 326 (Chapter 91, Statutes of 2014) allowed employers to report by telephone or email. According to the author of AB 1804, receiving emailed reports of serious injuries and deaths has been problematic for Cal/OSHA. 

AB 1804 removed an employer’s ability to report by email to Cal/OSHA when a serious occupational injury, illness or death occurs. Instead, the bill requires the report to be made through an online mechanism established by Cal/OSHA for that purpose.

The bill further specifies that until Cal/OSHA makes such an online mechanism available, employers are still permitted to make the report by email. Therefore, employers do not have to make any changes to their current reporting method until Cal/OSHA makes its online system available.

This requirement is in addition to the existing employer requirement to report any workplace injury or illness resulting in lost time beyond the date of the injury or illness, or that requires medical treatment beyond first aid, to the Department of Industrial Relations within 5 days of the employer’s knowledge of the injury or illness.  In the event a death results from the reported injury or illness, the employer must amend the original report within 5 days of learning of the death.

The Governor also signed into law AB 1805 which amended the definition of a serious workplace injury. “Serious injury or illness” means any injury or illness occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment that requires inpatient hospitalization, for other than medical observation or diagnostic testing, or in which an employee suffers an amputation, the loss of an eye, or any serious degree of permanent disfigurement, but does not include any injury or illness or death caused by an accident on a public street or highway unless the accident occurred in a construction zone.

Both AB 1804 and AB 1805 go into effect on January 1, 2020.  For further questions about reporting, please contact your local Cal/OSHA regional office.

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