With the enactment of Senate Bill 553 and the upcoming implementation of California Labor Code section 6401.9 on July 1, 2024, California employers will be required to implement additional measures for workplace safety. This legislation compels most non-health care related businesses to review and develop certain workplace violence measures by mandating the creation, execution, and ongoing maintenance of a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). Below, we outline five critical steps that employers must take to align with these new requirements, emphasizing development, risk assessment, training, and compliance documentation to meet these new requirements by the July 1 deadline:

1. Determine if your business is a covered employer that must develop a WVPP

The new requirements under SB 552 apply to all employers, employees, places of employment, and employer-provided housing, except for the following:

  1. Employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice, which is not under the control of the employer.
  2. Places of employment where there are less than 10 employees working at the place at any given time and that are not accessible to the public, if the places are in compliance with Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  3. Health care facilities, service categories, and operations covered by Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  4. Employers that comply with Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations in the health care setting.
  5. Facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, if the facilities are in compliance with Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  6. Employers that are law enforcement agencies that are a “department or participating department,” as defined in the California Code of Regulations and meet other requirements.

The exceptions are vary limited, and most employers in California will need to take steps to comply with SB 553’s requirements by July 1, 2024.

2. Conduct risk assessments

For covered employers under AB 553, an essential first step in violence prevention is conducting comprehensive risk assessments to identify potential hazards that could lead to workplace violence. Factors such as working conditions, the nature of the employment, and interactions with the public can all contribute to risk. Employers need to evaluate these factors meticulously to develop targeted prevention strategies.

3. Develop and implement a WVPP

Covered employers must craft a detailed WVPP that outlines the responsibilities of all parties involved, incorporates employee and representative involvement, and establishes clear protocols for handling and responding to incidents of workplace violence. This plan should include procedures for emergency responses, effective training programs, and methods for identifying, evaluating, and mitigating violence hazards.

Cal/OSHA published a model written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan for General Industry (Non-Health Care settings), which is available as a resource guide for employers.  Employers may download the model form as a Word document here. 

4. Engage in training and communication

Employers are required to develop and provide effective training for all employees, focusing on recognizing, preventing, and responding to potential violence in the workplace. This training should be part of an ongoing dialogue between employers and employees and needs to be documented.

5. Maintain and review compliance records

Compliance with the new legislation includes thorough documentation and record-keeping related to the WVPP. Employers must keep detailed records of all violence prevention efforts, including hazard identification and mitigation, training sessions, incident responses, and investigations. These records are vital for evaluating the effectiveness of the WVPP and for demonstrating compliance with these new regulations.

For more information about complying with the requirements for employers to develop a WVPP, join my firm for our webinar discussing the new law on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 10 a.m. PST.  You may register here.