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California tightens workplace safety violation reporting

The best workplaces are the safest. Most workers in offices and sites where safety is a major concern know that protection starts with leadership and continues down to everyday actions by everyone on site. Companies with high-risk activities like construction and transportation often have safety officers with executive power to protect their employees.

Employers who may be careless or negligent without tight workplace safety controls have enjoyed a six-month statute of limitation on citations issued by California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) for workplace safety recordkeeping violations. A new law will allow Cal/OSHA to pursue violations of record policy for as long as it takes to correct them.

The move comes after the federal government reduced companies' needs to report safety violations and related injuries or other issues. The U.S. OSHA may have a reduced ability to study workplace illness and injury with less reason for employers to submit electronic data regarding these controversial problems.

Reporting is still done at the federal level, however, and the law allows for a possible advisory committee to explore reporting requirements to the government in Sacramento as well as Washington. Although that step has yet to be taken by California lawmakers, the Golden State increased their chances of preventing future workplace trauma and sickness.

Workers hurt or sickened on the job, especially after an employer failed to keep appropriate records regarding hazards, have the right to claim financial damages and sue for better workplace safety practices. An attorney can help employees or former employees press their case and have their voice heard in mediation or court.

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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