Cal/OSHA Jurisdiction

Cal/OSHA has jurisdiction over almost every workplace in California. This means Cal/OSHA is the main government agency authorized to inspect California workplaces for occupational safety and health violations.1

Cal/OSHA lacks jurisdiction in only a few limited areas.2 Some of these areas are listed below. (DISCLAIMER: This list of areas outside Cal/OSHA jurisdiction is not a definitive, exhaustive list. There are exceptions to the list and other areas not listed.)

Federal OSHA has jurisdiction with regard to the following:

  • United States Government employees;
  • United States Postal Service (USPS) contractors and contractor-operated facilities engaged in USPS mail operations;
  • Private sector employers within the borders of all U.S. military installations;
  • Private sector employers within the borders of all U.S. national parks, national monuments, national memorials, and national recreation areas;
  • Private sector and tribal employers within the borders of all U.S. Government-recognized Native American reservations and trusts lands;
  • Maritime employment (except marine construction, which Cal/OSHA covers on bridges and on shore) on the navigable3 waters of the United States. Maritime employment includes:
    1. Longshore operations on all vessels from the shore side of the means of access to the vessels.
    2. Shipbuilding, shipbreaking, and ship repair on vessels afloat; shipbuilding, shipbreaking, and ship repair in graving docks or dry docks; ship repair and shipbreaking done on marine railways or similar conveyances used to haul vessels out of the water. This includes ship repair activities from a scaffold or other equipment adjacent to the ship that allows employees direct access to perform work on the vessel.
    3. Floating fuel operations.
    4. Diving from vessels afloat on navigable waters.

The FAA and federal OSHA have jurisdiction over the health and safety of airline employees during in-flight operations.

The FRA has jurisdiction over safety in railroad transportation.

DLSE has jurisdiction with regard to the following:

  • Complaints of discrimination or retaliation against employees who:
    1. Report or file a complaint about workplace hazards to their employer, their representative, or Cal/OSHA;
    2. Report a work-related fatality, injury, or illness (unless the employee is claiming discrimination under the workers' compensation laws);
    3. Cooperate with Cal/OSHA during workplace inspections;
    4. Refuse to perform work that would violate an occupational health or safety standard, where the violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the worker or coworkers;
    5. Exercise any other rights under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act.
  • Failure to provide required meal, rest, and recovery periods. (Note: Cal/OSHA also has jurisdiction with regard to recovery periods to prevent heat illness.)
  • Violations of other workplace standards in the Industrial Wage Commission Wage Orders, including the availability of suitable resting facilities and seating.

DWC has jurisdiction with regard to the following:

  • Medical care, disability payments, and other benefits provided to employees with job-related injuries and illnesses;
  • Claims of discrimination against injured employees for filing or making known their intention to file a workers' compensation claim.

DFEH has jurisdiction with regard to hate violence, threats of violence, or harassment in the workplace due to bias against persons belonging to a protected category or group (except employers' programs to prevent workplace violence, which Cal/OSHA covers).

DPR and CACs have jurisdiction with regard to pesticide safety for agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

CHP and local law enforcement have jurisdiction with regard to the following:

  • Acts of violence in the workplace (except employers' programs to prevent workplace violence, which Cal/OSHA covers);
  • Safety on public roads, except in construction work zones.

1Cal/OSHA also issues permits, licenses, certifications, and registrations to ensure that work is performed safety.

2 Cal/OSHA lacks jurisdiction where jurisdiction over occupational health and safety is vested by law in, and actively exercised by, another state or federal agency and Cal/OSHA is not required to assert jurisdiction as part of the California state plan approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). United States Code, title 29, section 667(c); Labor Code sections 50.7, 6303, and 6307.

3 "Navigable waters" is defined in the "Agreement under Section 18(e) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970" between federal OSHA and the California Department of Industrial Relations regarding federal OSHA jurisdiction.

April 2024