Assembly Bill 1805 (AB 1805) made two significant changes to the labor code by revising the definition of ‘serious injury or illness’ and ‘serious exposure.’ The bill broadens the scope of what will be classified as a serious illness, injury, or exposure and is expected to amplify the overall number of incidents that will be reported in the coming year when the regulation is implemented.
“A significant number of additional employee injuries or illnesses are now going to count under this definition,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe. “We expect that we are going to see an increase in citations and an increase of enforcement activity just because you’ve made the pool of those who qualify as a serious injury or illness bigger.”
The changes to the labor code redefine ‘serious injury or illness’ to include any in-patient hospitalization other than medical observation or diagnostic testing, replacing the previous definition of 24-hour hospitalization. “In addition, any employee who suffers an amputation, the loss of an eye, or any serious degree of permanent disfiguration also qualifies as ‘serious injury or illness,’” said Wolfe.
The definition of ‘serious exposure’ has also been revised with AB 1805. Prior to the bill, ‘serious exposure’ was determined to be when there was “a substantial possibility” that exposure could potentially lead to death or serious physical harm. The updated definition will now consider “a realistic possibility” for death or serious injury as a ‘serious exposure.’
Another change effective January 1, 2020, is the elimination of the exclusion of injuries or illness connected to crimes by coworkers or by third parties. Wolfe noted that this particular change is related to a push for further regulations related to workplace violence.
“By reducing these thresholds, the types of injuries and illnesses that we see are of less severity and now in many instances, could be connected to instances of violence in the workplace,” said Wolfe. “The number of incidents that Cal/OSHA cites, relative to these changes, will become part of the arsenal of data that substantiates the importance and the need of violence in the workplace safety regulations.”
Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.