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Frequently Asked Questions about Safety

Published on: 12/20/2012 8:34 AM
A safety coordinator is responsible for the implementation of departmental workplace safety programs. S/he makes sure the department comply with safety standards and regulations by working with employees, first-line supervisors and managers to resolve safety issues. S/he also coordinates and promotes employee health and safety on-the-job.
The authorities and responsibilities of a safety coordinator are detailed in the Safety Coordinators' manual. The latest version is available on-line.​
IIPP stands for Injury and Illness Prevention Program, which is state mandated pursuant to Senate Bill 198 (also Cal/OSHA General Industry Safety Order 3203, or Labor Code 6401) passed and became effective since July 1991. It is also known as the OIIPP (Occupational Injury and Illness Prevention Plan) here in the County. The latest version of the OIIPP is available on-line and can be downloaded from the Library page of this site.​
The California OSHA standards (General Industry Safety Orders, Construction Safety Orders, Mining, Boilers and others) can be found in Subchapter 7, Group 1-27, Sections 3200-6200 of Title 8 Code of California Regulations (T8 CCR). They can also be accessed on-line at​
Yes, since January 2000, Assembly Bill (AB) 1127 allows the enforcement arm of Cal/OSHA to impose fines on public sector employers for violating health and safety standards. AB 1127 also affords Cal/OSHA broader authority in regard to both civil and criminal sanctions against employers in protection of workers' health and safety.​
A hazardous material is anything that can harm people or the environment. More specifically, a material is hazardous if it is any of the following:
  • Corrosive - it burns the skin or eyes on contact
  • Explosive - it can explode under certain conditions, such as heat or pressure
  • Flammable - it catches fire easily
  • Reactive - it burns, explodes, or releases dangerous vapors when mixed with other substances
  • Toxic - it can cause illness or death
  • Oxidizing - it promotes combustion through the release of oxygen
Many hazardous materials combine two or more of the above characteristics.
The material safety data sheet (MSDS) describes known hazards and protection information on a hazardous material. It is the one place everyone should look before starting any job involving hazardous chemicals and any time there is a question about a particular chemical's risk and means of protection. Every chemical manufacturer and/or importer must provide a MSDS with the chemicals they ship and employers must have MSDSs on hand for each hazardous chemical they use.​
Cal/OSHA Construction Safety Orders, Safety Belts and Nets, Section 1670 "Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Personal Fall Restraint Systems and Positioning Devices" require that approved personal fall arrest, personal fall restraint or positioning systems shall be worn by those employees whose work exposes them to falling in excess of 7 and ½ feet from:
  • Perimeter of a structure;
  • Unprotected sides and edges;
  • Leading edges;
  • Through shaftways and openings;
  • Sloped roof surfaces steeper than 7:12; or
  • Other sloped surfaces steeper than 40 degrees not otherwise adequately protected under the provisions of these Orders.​
Employees entering a trench or any excavation five (5) feet or deeper shall be protected from cave-ins through shoring, sloping, and trenching. Permit must be obtained from Cal/OSHA before any work can commence.​
According to GISO 5156, a confined space is defined as a space that is a) large enough and so configured that en employee can bodily enter the space and perform necessary work, b) has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and c) is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Examples of confined spaces are: tanks, pipes (sewer, drain, utility, etc.), vaults, pits, tunnels, manholes, and trenches.
Permit-required confined spaces have one or more of the following characteristics:
  • Contains or has potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere such as:
    • more than 10% of the lower exposure limit (LEL);
    • combustible dusts greater than the LEL or obscures vision at 5 feet or less;
    • oxygen concentration less than 19.5% or greater than 23.5% of air;
    • Atmospheric condition that is greater than the chemical's permissible exposure limit (PEL);
    • Any other atmospheric condition that is immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH).
  • Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant.
  • Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
It depends on who has jurisdiction on the property. The County Hazardous Materials Control Division under the Department of Environmental Health may resolve the issue. Contact your department's Safety Coordinator or the Safety/Environmental Compliance Specialist to be sure.​
Contact your department's Safety Coordinator or the Safety/Environmental Compliance Specialist.​
Contact your department's Safety Coordinator or the Safety/Environmental Compliance Specialist.​
First, contact your department's Safety Coordinator or Safety/Environmental Compliance Specialist to consult about your workstation. Second, if necessary, your department will arrange for an ergonomic workstation evaluation to be done through U.S. Healthworks.​
​For More Information Please Contact:
2310 N. 1st Street, Suite 204
San Jose, CA 95131
Main telephone number : 408.441-4280
FAX 408.432-7555
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