February 1, 2015 was the cutoff date for stakeholders to submit comments to CalOSHA regarding the proposed changes related to the 1910.269 Federal OSHA standard that CalOSHA must adopt (the state regulations must either be identical or provide an equivalent level of protection to workers). The .269 standard was released in April of 2014, however much of the enforcement mechanisms of the standard have been postponed due to lawsuits seeking relief or clarification of the changes. By law, California and all other states have six months to make changes to their programs once the changes are made at the federal level.
It appears CalOSHA plans on bringing over the standard changes directly from the federal standards, which will require some modifications to the current structure. The Federal standards are written specifically for the Electric Power Industry, whereas CalOSHA standards cover the general industry and all who perform electrical work by using a Low Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (LVESO) and High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders (HVESO). In an effort to meet the time requirements required for adopting a standard as large as this, I can see the state satisfying the requirement first, then assembling advisory committees at a later date to address the standard in the format that CalOSHA is written in. Local 1245 will remain involved in the initial comment period as well as any future advisory committees to make sure the safety of our members is addressed.
On March 24 and 25, Local 1245 will be participating in an advisory committee addressing CalOSHA’s desire to incorporate the new federal crane standard requirements for construction into their general orders for all industries. This was originally attempted during the six-month period required to change state plans to meet the Federal requirements, but was met by resistance through various industries which prompted CalOSHA to bring the standard over as written with the Federal requirements. This seems to be another large standard that will require a lot of time to achieve what the standards board prefers.
–Rich Lane, IBEW 1245 Safety Rep