California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law AB 2774 (Swanson) which clarifies the definition of a serious citation.

New Law to Strengthen Cal/OSHA Citation Process

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law AB 2774 (Swanson) which clarifies the definition of a serious citation. The new law is designed to improve Cal/OSHA’s citation process by redefining how serious violations are cited. The legislation also clarifies procedures for issuance of a serious citation and procedures for the appeals process when determining if the citation was issued correctly.

“The previous definition was inadequate and made it exceedingly difficult to prove that a serious violation existed,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “This significant clarification will allow Cal/OSHA to better identify serious violations, as well as provide improved guidance for the appeals board in cases where the issuance of a serious citation is in question. The new law also establishes procedures for notifying employers of the possibility that they may face a citation for a serious violation and requires that Cal/OSHA staff consider certain factors before issuing a serious citation.”

The bill was introduced on the assembly floor in March and subsequently amended prior to passing the assembly and senate in August. It was signed on Sept. 30 by Schwarzenegger and will go into effect Jan. 1.

“This new interpretation of a serious violation will help strengthen the Cal/OSHA program, improve enforcement efforts and better protect California’s workers,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “It will help us accurately issue serious citations to more effectively address the most egregious violations.”

New factors used to accurately issue serious citations include any training given to employees and supervisors, existing workplace safety procedures, supervision of employees exposed to the hazard, as well as any contributing information the employer wishes to provide to explain why the employer believes that no serious violation exists.

Under the labor code, Cal/OSHA can also issue citations for violations that do not meet the “serious” designation. The criteria for a regulatory violation and general violation will remain unchanged. These violations are generally considered not as egregious as a serious violation.

For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA website at

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