April 2024 – Workplace Safety – Overdose Meds May Be Coming to Your First Aid Kit

EFFORTS ARE afoot to create new laws and regulations that would require California employers to include the opioid overdose medication Narcan in their first aid kits. Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board has received a petition from a safety group asking it to create new regulations requiring workplaces to stock medications that can reverse opioid overdoses.

On the legislative front, two state assembly members have introduced bills that would require workplace first aid kits to include naloxone hydrochloride, the substance that can reverse overdoses.
More than 83,000 people died of an opioid overdose in 2022 in the U.S., including nearly 7,000 Californians, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Naloxone, sold under the brand names Narcan and RiVive, is available in an over-the-counter nasal spray or as an injectable.
These medications temporarily reverse overdoses from prescription and illicit opioids, are not addictive, and are not harmful to people when administered.
In its Dec. 8 petition to Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board, the National Safety Council asked it to add naloxone to the list of required items in both construction sites as well as general industry workplaces.
“With the number of workplace overdose deaths on the rise, opioid overdose reversal medication is now an essential component of an adequate first-aid kit,” wrote Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the NSC.


Two bills are in play.
AB 1976: Authored by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), this bill would require first aid kits on job sites to include Narcan. It would require the Standards Board to draft enabling regulations by Dec. 31, 2026.
AB 1996: Authored by Assemblyman Juan Alanis (D-Modesto), this measure would require operators of stadiums, concert venues and amusement parks to stock Narcan. It would not require Cal/OSHA to create new regulations as the measure is aimed at helping members of the public.

The takeaway

In light of the opioid overdose epidemic, more and more employers and operators of facilities that cater to the public have started stocking naloxone.
With opioid overdoses so prevalent in U.S. workplaces (18% in California alone), the simple addition of this over-the-counter medication can save the life of a worker.
Narcan is available for around $40 at most major retail pharmacies. It’s a simple and inexpensive addition to a first aid kit for any employer. It would be good practice to keep a pack in your safety kit… just in case.
Meanwhile, if any of the legislative and possible regulatory efforts become law or regulation, we’ll let you know.

January 2024 – Top 10 California Laws, Regs for 2024

EVERY YEAR, bills passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor take effect, and 2023 was a busy legislative session in Sacramento. The end result is another set of new laws that employers need to stay on top of in the New Year.


1. Sick leave law expanded
A new law that took effect Jan. 1 increased the amount of paid sick leave days California workers are eligible for to five days (40 hours), up from the current three, or 24 hours.
The new legislation applies to virtually all employees in the state. Under the law, businesses have two options for providing sick leave:
Up front: They can provide all five paid sick days up front for the year, and these days can be used immediately.
Accrual: They can build up paid sick leave by either accruing one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, or providing 40 hours of leave by the 200th day of the year.

2. Pre-employment cannabis screening
Employers in California are no longer allowed to ask a job applicant about past cannabis use. The legislation, SB 700, bars employers from conducting pre-employment drug screenings for cannabis. In addition, the new law, which took effect Jan. 1, prohibits companies from penalizing workers for their off-the-clock cannabis use. Another measure, AB 2188, makes it unlawful for employers to “discriminate” against a person for failing a workplace drug test that only detects inactive cannabis compounds called metabolites.

3. FAIR Plan increases its limits
With more and more California businesses being forced to go to the California FAIR Plan for their property coverage, the market of last resort has increased its commercial property coverage limits to $20 million per location from the previous $8.3 million. This should bring a semblance of relief to companies located in wildfire-prone areas, who have seen their commercial
property insurance non-renewed and who have been unable to find replacement coverage.

4. Workplace violence law
A new law, which takes effect July 1, requires employers with at least one worker to have in place a workplace violence prevention plan, and conduct workplace violence prevention training
and keep a log of violent incidents in the workplace.

The prevention plan must include:
• Procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence.
• Procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence.
• Procedures for responding to workplace violence emergencies.

Employers will also be required to train their workers on the plan and on how to respond to violent incidents or threats of violence.

5. Treasury reporting rule
A new Treasury Department rule requires businesses with fewer than 20 employees and less than $5 million in revenue to report ownership and control information to the Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as part of an effort to cut down on fraud, money laundering and the funding of terrorism that could run through anonymous business entities.
The new rule was prompted by the passage of the Corporate Transparency Act enacted in 2021, but which took effect Jan. 1. Companies formed after Jan. 1 will have 30 days to file that
information with FinCEN. Existing companies will have to start filing that information starting Jan. 1, 2025.

6. No more non-competes
Under two new laws, non-compete agreements with employees are expressly illegal starting in 2024 and if an employer requires one be signed, it could provide grounds for a lawsuit by the worker. Here’s a rundown of the two laws:

AB 1076 – This law adds new requirements and penalties to existing cases that make it illegal for employers to include non-compete clauses in employment contracts or require an employee to sign a non-compete agreement that doesn’t meet exceptions under the law. The law also requires employers to notify current employees who signed non-compete agreements that they are now void
under California law by Feb. 14, 2024. This also applies to former employees who were hired after Dec. 31, 2021.

SB 699 – This legislation bars employers from enforcing a non- compete agreement that is void under state law. Most notably it would make void an agreement signed by an employee out of
state who later relocates to California. It also provides employees and job applicants a private right of action, including awards for injunctive relief, actual damages and attorney’s fees, and costs if an employer requires them to sign a non-compete. Additionally, it makes a violation of the statute an act of unfair competition — another possible legal risk.

7. New joint-employer rule
The National Labor Relations Board has issued a final rule that expands the definition of what’s considered a joint-employer relationship and increases employers’ potential liability.
Under the rule, two or more entities may be considered joint employers if they share one or more employees and they both can determine the workers’ essential terms and conditions of employment. If a company is deemed a joint employer with another entity, each can be held liable for labor law violations that the other commits.

The new NLRB rule applies to almost all industries, but will have the most effect on companies that use staffing or temp agencies, firms that are third party employers, and franchisors.
The rule took effect Dec. 26, 2023 on a prospective basis, meaning it applies to any cases filed on or after that date.

8. Reproductive-loss leave law
Starting Jan. 1, workers in the Golden State can take up to five days off for a “reproductive loss,” defined as a miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoption or failed surrogacy experienced by an
employee, their spouse or partner. Under the new law, SB 848, workers are not required to take all five days consecutively, but they must use them all within three months of the event.
If an employee experiences two reproductive losses in a year, they will be eligible for 20 days off.

9. New telecommuter class code
If you have staff who work remotely, you’ll want to know that there is a new California workers’ compensation class code. After droves of employees starting working remotely after the
COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau created a new telecommuter class code (8871) and tethered its pure premium advisory rate to the 8810
clerical classification for easier administration.
Under Rating Bureau rules, code 8871 will receive its own rate which is 25% lower than the clerical rate. If you have remote workers, you’ll want to ensure they are in the telecommuter class
code to enjoy the lower premium.

10. Minimum wage hike
The state minimum wage increased at the start of 2024 to $16 from last year’s $15.50. While that wage is for the state, a number of cities and municipalities have minimum wage rates that are higher. Additionally, a new law, AB 1228, raises the minimum wage for fast food restaurant workers in the state to $20 an hour, starting April 1, 2024. This rate will increase annually through 2029 based on inflation. v

October 2023 – Transportation Hiring Alert – Always Check New Drivers’ Clearinghouse Record

FLEET OPERATORS face an increased risk of potential liability if they are not diligent about checking their drivers’ moving violation records with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

As of 2020, it became mandatory that all motor carriers sign up their drivers in the Clearinghouse and run their driver rosters through the system to clear them for duty. But many companies are skipping this step and only checking their drivers’ records with the DMV, which may not reflect any suspensions issued by the Clearinghouse.

Clearinghouse rules require that drivers be tested for drugs prior to being hired and randomly throughout the year. This helps employers weed out drivers who may be at higher risk of both moving violations and accidents.

The Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse was created to keep commercial drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol rules from lying about those results and getting a job with another motor carrier.
This electronic database tracks commercial drivers’ license holders who have tested positive for prohibited drug or alcohol use, as well as refusals to take required drug tests, and other drug and alcohol violations.

The Clearinghouse tracks a driver’s drug and alcohol tests and bars them from operating commercial vehicles after they fail a test. If they want to return to driving, they must successfully pass a return-to-duty process that includes substance abuse treatment and a test to evaluate their readiness.

The restriction can be lifted if the driver signs up for a Clearinghouse program that will test them 14 times in two years, with the first 12 tests having to occur in the first year.
This cost all comes out of the driver’s pocket.
This system is an important check on drivers and helps employers reduce their exposure.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is required to check the Clearinghouse before issuing a new or renewing a commercial driver’s license.

The takeaway

While it is the law that employers follow Clearinghouse procedures, because it’s a new system, many companies are failing to follow the rules.
If you are relying only on pulling a driver’s moving violation record and not the Clearinghouse, you are in breach of regulations and could leave your firm exposed.
If you employ a driver who is under suspension from driving by the Clearinghouse and they are involved in an accident, the victims could build a case that your organization was negligent in letting the individual drive and not checking the Clearinghouse first.
If they can prove negligence on a fleet operator’s part, the business could be in for a hefty court judgment.

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