California Law Eliminates Email Reporting for Serious Workplace Accidents

At the end of August, California Governor Newsom signed AB 1804, a law that alters the method by which employers are to report serious occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). While employers were previously permitted to make such reports via telephone or email, this law eliminates the option for email reporting once a new online portal is operational. Employers can continue to report via telephone.

Pursuant to Section 6409.1 of the California Labor Code and 8 CCR 342, employers are required to immediately report to Cal/OSHA “any serious injury or illness, or death of an employee occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment.” “Serious” workplace injuries or illnesses are any injuries or illnesses which require hospitalization for a period of more than 24 hours or in which an employee suffers loss of a body part or suffers a serious degree of permanent disfigurement. 8 CCR § 330(h). “Immediately” is defined “as soon as practically possible but not longer than 8 hours after the employer knows, or with diligent inquiry, would have known of the serious injury or illness.” 8 CCR § 342(a).

Previously, employers had the option to make the immediate report of serious workplace injuries or fatalities by telephone or email. AB 1804 changes this reporting requirement by requiring employers to immediately report such incidents via telephone or through an online reporting mechanism, which Cal/OSHA will create. Until the online reporting mechanism is operational, employers can continue to report serious accidents by email. Violations for failing to timely report a serious injury are a minimum of $5,000. Cal. Labor Code § 6409.1(b). 

As explained in a Senate bill analysis, the change in the law was prompted by complaints that accident reporting through email has slowed accident investigation because Cal/OSHA may receive incomplete information. During a telephone conversation, Cal/OSHA can ask for follow-up information, but that is not available through email. By creating an online report portal, Cal/OSHA can prompt employers about the type of information that must be provided.

AB 1804 does not change the substantive information that an employer must provide pursuant to 8 CCR § 342(c) if that information is available:

  • Time and date of accident.
  • Employer’s name, address and telephone number.
  • Name and job title, or badge number of person reporting the accident.
  • Address of site of accident or event.
  • Name of person to contact at site of accident.
  • Name and address of injured employee.
  • Nature of injury.
  • Location where injured employee was moved to.
  • List and identity of other law enforcement agencies present at the site of accident.
  • Description of accident and whether the accident scene or instrumentality has been altered.

Employers should monitor Cal/OSHA’s public announcements to determine when the new online reporting portal will be live.

Beveridge & Diamond’s Occupational Health & Safety practice works alongside clients’ legal, EHS and technical teams, to help resolve critical enforcement, compliance, and regulatory issues relating to their facilities and operations. For more information, please contact the authors.