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Sen. Lena Gonzalez. (Photo: sd33.senate.ca.gov)

SB 606 Workplace Safety Legislation

Establishes rebuttable presumption that an employer with multiple worksites has committed an enterprise-wide violation

By Chris Micheli, September 28, 2021 6:47 am

On September 27, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 606 by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), related to workplace safety. Section One amends Section 6317 of the Labor Code to provide that, if an employer has multiple worksites and either of the following situations are true, there is a rebuttable presumption that a violation is enterprise-wide:

  • The employer has a written policy or procedure that violates any standard, rule, order, or regulation. Such a written policy or procedure does not form the basis for an enterprise-wide citation if it violates an emergency regulation adopted or amended within the last 30 days, commencing from the date of the vote of the standards board to adopt or amend the emergency regulation.
  • The division has evidence of a pattern or practice of the same violation or violations committed by that employer involving more than one of the employer’s worksites.

Section Two of the bill adds Labor Code Section 6317.8 to provide that the Division of Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which is housed within the Department of Industrial Relations, may issue citations to employers it believes has “willfully and egregiously violated an occupational safety or health standard order or regulation.” In such a case, the division must issue a citation to that employer for each egregious violation with reasonable promptness.

SB 606 defines an “egregious violation” if one or more of the following is true:

  • The employer, intentionally, through conscious, voluntary action or inaction, made no reasonable effort to eliminate the known violation.
  • The violations resulted in worker fatalities, a worksite catastrophe, or a large number of injuries or illnesses.
  • The violations resulted in persistently high rates of worker injuries or illnesses.
  • The employer has an extensive history of prior violations of this part.
  • The employer has intentionally disregarded their health and safety responsibilities.
  • The employer’s conduct, taken as a whole, amounts to clear bad faith in the performance of their duties under this part.
  • The employer has committed a large number of violations so as to undermine significantly the effectiveness of any safety and health program that may be in place.

Section Three of the bill adds Section 6317.9 to the Labor Code to provide that, in the investigation of the policies and practices of an employer or a related employer entity, the division may issue a subpoena if the employer or the related employer entity fails to promptly provide the requested information, and may enforce the subpoena if the employer or the related employer entity fails to provide the requested information within a reasonable period of time.

Section Four of the bill amends Section 6323 of the Labor to add that the division may apply to the superior court for an injunction if it has grounds to issue a citation.

Section Five of the bill amends Section 6324 of the Labor Code relating to the application to the superior court for the injunction.

Section Six of the bill amends Section 6429 of the Labor Code to expand the application of the civil penalty to include any employer who commits an enterprise-wide violation.

Section Seven of the bill amends Section 6602 of the Labor Code to provide that, if the division establishes an enterprise-wide violation, then the appeals board must include in its decision an enterprise-wide abatement order.

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