Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
A key change to the state’s Proposition 65 signage requirements is happening Aug. 30 that could mean fines of up to $2,500 a day for employers out of compliance.
Approved by voters in 1986, Prop. 65 — the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act — requires businesses with 10 or more employees to post signs alerting people to the presence of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive problems.
For more than 30 years, these signs have adorned California workplaces. The language varies a bit, but they generally warn that a “product may contain a chemical” or “detectable amounts of chemicals” known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects.
As of Aug. 30, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is mandating changes to those signs, and failure to properly display a $40 sign could result in aforementioned fines and legal settlements that can run $60,000-$80,000 for small businesses.
That’s the warning from our good friend Julie Griffiths of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, who has been on the front line of the battle against American with Disabilities Act lawsuit abuse that is shaking down small business owners across the Central Valley.
She’s sounding the call, doing her part to keep small business owners safe, “as trial lawyers are banking on a big payout.” Employers should know that the signs are required for the mere presence of a listed substance — California has identified more than 900 chemicals so far — even if it posses little to no risk to consumers.
The warnings are required for cars, restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, parking lots and the majority of retail locations. Products sued under Prop. 65 since January include chocolate, baked chips, gingerbread cookies, sunscreen, trampolines, flip flops, shea butter and more.
Griffiths encourages business owners to read the labeling and safety data sheets on products used and/or sold at their business for chemicals, and to check those against the list available at www.p65warnings.ca.gov.
Via Griffiths, here’s an example of what the new signs look like: