Wilmes, LLC Risk Control Services Update: New Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements in California
In a significant development, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 553 into law, requiring comprehensive workplace violence prevention measures for nearly all California employers. This groundbreaking legislation mandates the creation and implementation of Workplace Violence Prevention Plans, training for employees on identifying and preventing workplace violence, and the maintenance of violent incident logs. The deadline for compliance with these new regulations is July 1, 2024.
Key Points of SB 553:
- Who is Covered: The new law applies to all employers and employees in the State of California, with a few limited exceptions, including employers already covered by Cal/OSHA’s Violence Prevention in Health Care standard, teleworking employees outside the control of the employer, small workplaces not open to the public, and certain government agencies.
- Defining “Workplace Violence”: Workplace violence is broadly defined and includes various acts or threats of violence that occur in a place of employment, encompassing verbal and written threats, as well as incidents involving firearms or dangerous weapons. Importantly, it also includes threats that result in psychological trauma or “stress,” irrespective of whether physical injury occurs.
- Workplace Violence Prevention Plan: Employers must create a written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, which should be easily accessible to employees. This plan must include procedures for employee involvement, coordination with other employers, reporting of violence incidents, ensuring compliance with the plan, post-incident response, and more.
- Training Requirements: Employers are required to provide initial training when implementing the plan and conduct annual training sessions. This training should cover various topics, including how to report workplace violence hazards and incidents, corrective measures taken by the employer, and strategies to avoid physical harm.
- Recording and Reporting: Employers must maintain a violent incident log, recording detailed information about workplace violence incidents, including date, time, location, description, and more. This log must be retained for five years. Employees have the right to access and copy this log within 15 calendar days of request.
- Other Recordkeeping: Unlike the one-year retention period for IIPP records, SB 553 imposes a five-year retention requirement for records related to workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, correction, and incident investigations.
- Changes to TRO Petitions: The law also amends the process for employers seeking temporary restraining orders (TROs) on behalf of employees. It expands the categories of individuals authorized to petition for TROs and allows for employee anonymity in TRO papers.
Cal/OSHA Model Program: While Cal/OSHA has not confirmed the release of a model Workplace Violence Prevention Plan program, it is likely that they will provide one in the future.
To ensure compliance with these new regulations, Wilmes, LLC Risk Control Services recommends contacting us to strategize on creating and implementing compliant Workplace Violence Prevention Plans or modifying existing policies before the July 1, 2024 deadline. We are here to help you navigate this new legal landscape and keep your workplace safe.