Today at Berkeley Lab

Lab Submits Variance to Move From Fed/OSHA to Cal/OSHA

Historically, work done at Berkeley Lab has been required to adhere to federal safety standards. That sometimes makes it difficult for the workers the Lab contracts with and their companies, who are familiar with and accustomed to complying with California safety standards.

This month the Lab will submit an application to the Department of Energy (DOE) to begin following the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) safety standards rather than Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Fed/OSHA) standards.

The Lab’s current safety program also follows the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 851, which is unique to the Department of Energy labs. Parts of CFR 851 would continue to remain in effect since it offers a higher level of protection in areas such as laser and electrical. These standards would be moved into a new Injury and Illness Prevention Plan.

“The changes make it easier for construction contractors who do work at the Lab to train their workers since they use Cal/OSHA rules at other sites and have to modify their safety training to work at the Lab,” said EH&S manager Andrew Peterson. “It also aligns the Lab’s safety rules with UC Berkeley, which also uses Cal/OSHA safety standards.”

Cal/OSHA incorporates all of Fed/OSHA, plus it has ergonomic standards, a program for heat illness prevention, and stricter levels of permissible exposure levels to air contaminants.

The internal safety reporting structure will remain the same with DOE being the enforcement agency for any violations.The CFR  851 “variance process” allows for employee comments on this change. The draft application is available for review. If you want to submit comments, contact Andrew Peterson, manager, Environment, Health & Safety.



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