Employer Responsibilities

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Worker Safety and Health

Employers in California have to address workplace hazards and take steps to protect workers. Use the resources in this portal to learn about workplace safety and health requirements.

Prevent Hazards

In California, employers are responsible for taking steps to protect workers from all work-related hazards that can cause injury and illness. Here is information on common hazards in California:

Heat Illness Prevention
  • Employers in California must take steps to prevent heat illness for outdoor workers. The Heat Illness Prevention for Outdoor Workers standard is enforced by Cal/OSHA at outdoor worksites across the state.
  • The law requires employers to provide water, rest, shade and training to prevent heat illness and to have an emergency response plan in case a worker suffers heat illness.
  • Cal/OSHA’s website 99calor.org has information on requirements, model written programs and free training materials for order or download.

Wildfire Smoke Protection

COVID-19 Prevention

  • The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) have been in effect since November 2020. The standards are enforced by Cal/OSHA at all worksites not covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard.
  • The ETS provides employers requirements on how to protect workers from COVID-19 and how to handle COVID-19 cases and exposure.
  • For more information, visit Cal/OSHA’s portal on the ETS.

Workers’ Rights

It is important for small business owners to know that their workers have the right to raise concerns about workplace safety and health hazards without fear of retaliation. Retaliation can include changing a worker’s duties, schedule or pay because they exercised their labor rights.
If workers do not feel comfortable speaking up about hazards at work, they might file a complaint with Cal/OSHA. Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement Unit reviews all complaints and responds based on the information provided. Cal/OSHA investigates complaints with either an investigation by letter or an onsite inspection. The inspection may result in citations with monetary penalties as well as requirements to correct violations that were identified.  
Cal/OSHA has publications small business owners can use to learn about worker rights and to educate employees.

General Requirements

Employers must follow workplace safety and health requirements to prevent hazards and protect workers.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program

  • To comply with Cal/OSHA requirements, employers must develop and maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). The IIPP contains various elements related to identifying hazards, training and more.
  • Cal/OSHA has model IIPP programs for download.
  • Cal/OSHA Consultation Services are also available for free assistance to help employers with their programs.

Maintain a log of work-related injuries and illness

  • Employers must maintain a log of work-related injuries and illnesses according to Cal/OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements.
  • The log should contain information on all incidents that result in medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work, restricted activity and more.
  • The log is made of three forms including the Form 300 that is used to note information about the severity of each case. The Form 300A is a summary that must be posted annually in the workplace. The Form 301 includes an incident report to detail each case.
  • Cal/OSHA has guidance on recordkeeping requirements and forms for download. There are also Frequently Asked Questions about recording COVID-19 cases.
  • In addition to posting the Form 300A in the workplace each year, federal OSHA requires employers in certain industries, including small businesses, to electronically submit their summary. Read more about the requirements to electronically submit the Form 300A to federal OSHA.

Notify Cal/OSHA of work-related deaths and serious injuries/illnesses 

  • Employers in California have to notify Cal/OSHA of work-related deaths and serious injuries and illnesses. Cal/OSHA will open an inspection of work-related notifications to determine how the incident occurred and to identify any violations of workplace safety and health requirements.
  • Small business owners can use Cal/OSHA’s online tool to call and fulfill the requirement to notify the closest enforcement office of a death, serious injury or illness. Employers should notify Cal/OSHA right away to avoid a citation for failure to make a timely report.
  • Serious injuries and illness include those that require inpatient hospitalization. Read Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions for the latest information about the definition of serious injury and illness.


February 2023

The Department of Industrial Relations is a resource for small businesses. Contact us for information and assistance with workplace requirements.

Get resources on workplace safety and health requirements.

Know how to pay workers properly.

Learn about having an insurance plan to cover workplace injuries and illnesses.

Find workforce solutions by developing an approved apprenticeship program.