Top 10 Laws, Regulations and Trends for 2018

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Last week we brought you the first five laws, trends and regulations that will affect businesses in 2018. This is part with the remaining five.  
  1. Silica rules
Cal/OSHA began enforcing its new silica rules on Sept. 23, 2017 for the construction industry, and now the rules are in full effect for contractors and general industry, for which the rules took effect in late 2016. Under the new silica standard, the permissible exposure limit is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, compared to the old standard of 100. All construction employers covered by the standard are required to:
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to work areas where high exposures may occur.
  • Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan.
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
 
  1. Sexual harassment trends and EPLI
With the wave of sexual harassment allegations sweeping the country – taking down public figures in politics, entertainment, business and the media – you can expect the trend to filter down from the spotlight to employers in all industries. Employers have been in the cross hairs for sexual harassment and discrimination for years, but with more stories and the #metoo movement, there is likely to be an uptick in allegations against supervisors, managers and owners in businesses. Now is the time to double down on anti-sexual harassment training, putting in place a robust reporting mechanism that shields the accused. If you don’t already have it, now is also the time to seriously consider an employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policy.  
  1. Worksite immigration enforcement and protections
The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) provides workers with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job and imposes varying fines from $2,000 to $10,000 on employers that violate the law’s provisions. This bill also makes it unlawful for employers to re-verify the employment eligibility of current employees in a time or manner not allowed by federal employment eligibility verification laws.  
  1. Heat safety for indoor workers
Start preparing in 2018 for indoor heat illness regulations that are slated to come on Cal/OSHA’s books starting Jan. 1, 2019. A bill passed in 2016 requires that, by that date, the Division propose to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for review and adoption, a heat illness and injury prevention standard applicable to people working in indoor places of employment. California has had an active outdoor workplace heat illness standard since 2006. Moreover, in the past several years Cal/OSHA and other agencies have initiated either training or enforcement to protect workers against indoor heat illness. If you have vulnerable workers, you can use 2018 as the year to put safeguards in place for employees that work in high-heat indoor conditions. The regulations will apply to:
  • Indoor workplaces where the dry bulb temperature exceeds 90 degrees, or
  • Where employees perform moderate, heavy or very heavy work and the dry bulb temperature exceeds 80 degrees.
 
  1. Criminal background checks
Starting in 2018, employers with five or more workers may not conduct a criminal background check prior to the offer of employment to an applicant. If an employer does conduct a criminal check after an offer, it must make an individualized assessment whether a particular conviction has a direct and adverse relationship to the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position. Also, if an employer decides not to hire someone based on information from a criminal check, the employer must notify the applicant of the decision in writing, and provide at least five business days to respond. The employer must then consider the applicant’s response before making a final decision.      


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