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Understanding the new inspection requirements on public works projects in California

The new legislation, which focuses on worker compensation, compliance, and pay, will be enforced by the DIR’s Labor Enforcement Task Force.


Earlier this year, California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) announced a new initiative to ramp up inspection requirements on publicly-funded job sites. The goal of this work is to ensure worker compensation and compliance on public works projects.

Spurred by new legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021, the bill designates $30 million in funding to support the DIR’s strategic enforcement of construction, alteration, and repair projects, as subject to provisions of Section 1785 of the Labor Code. 

What are the details of this new initiative?

Enforced by the DIR’s Labor Enforcement Task Force, the new initiative requires employers on the impacted jobsites to provide workers’ compensation insurance and to abide by labor laws, including regulations around health, safety, and workforce training. 

The task force’s inspections will also hone in on pay and wage theft on these public works projects, ensuring that employers are paying all employees prevailing wages. These are standardized hourly rates for workers based on the type of work they do, as well as the location of the project. 

The prevailing wage for a drywall installer in San Diego County, for example, is currently set at $59.63 per hour (a rate that increases to $76.99 for overtime hours, and to $94.36 on Sundays and holidays.) All public works contractors are required to submit certified payroll records to illustrate their compliance with this aspect of the initiative.

Who is included in the task force?

The task force (which is operated under the DIR) is made up of multiple California state government enforcement agencies. This includes Cal/OSHA, the Labor Commissioner’s Office and the Contractors State License Board. The task force partners with local agencies to battle “the underground economy.” This refers to any businesses not acting in good faith, either by operating outside of the public work requirements or creating unsafe conditions for their workers.

Who does this initiative impact?

This initiative primarily impacts California-based public works contractors. This includes any prime contractors and/or subcontractors that work or bid on public works projects. The complete list of registered Public Works Contractors can be found in this searchable database on the DIR website.

What are the consequences for noncompliance?

Contractors and subcontractors that do not meet these public works requirements will face citations for recovered wages, as well as civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. 

How can Odin help my site comply with this new initiative and others like it?

New legislation like this often places additional responsibilities on the shoulders of site owners and permit holders, but with a partner like Odin in your corner, you can easily implement these new safety measures with confidence. 

Odin helps automate all forms compliance. 

First, Odin digitizes all worker records and stores them in an integrated, cloud-based database. Then, daily swipe activity logs, compliance audits, and other reports–including the certified payroll records required under this new initiative–can be generated on demand, eliminating the need for paper sign-in sheets and other manual workflows.

We capture actual time on site for all workers

Because Odin manages both physical access control and worker credentialing, we’re able to accurately log when individual workers enter and leave the site. This data can help lower costs in many ways. For example, using actual hours on site instead of payroll records can help ensure that you aren’t overpaying for insurance or negotiated contractor hours.

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