JULY 1, 2024 DEADLINE

Last year, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 553, setting the stage for a major update in workplace safety regulations. Starting July 1, 2024, California employers must have a detailed workplace violence prevention plan. This plan can either be a part of their existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or a separate document. Key components of this requirement include conducting violence prevention training for employees and maintaining logs of any violent incidents at work.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is tasked with enforcing this new law and has released a model workplace violence prevention plan to assist employers in drafting their own. This model plan, similar to the one created for COVID-19, includes:

  • An overview of the legal requirements;
  • Guidelines on how to draft the plan;
  • Definitions of important legal terms;
  • A structure for the plan that includes mandatory elements with options for customization based on the specific needs of each workplace.

While using Cal/OSHA’s model plan is not mandatory, it provides a solid starting point, complete with fill-in sections for specific employer information, as well as questions and examples that can help in setting up an effective plan.

Additionally, Cal/OSHA has prepared a fact sheet for employers that outlines all the new requirements. This includes what should be included in the workplace violence prevention plan, how to log violent incidents, training necessities, recordkeeping, and other relevant information and resources.

With the July 1 deadline approaching quickly, it is crucial for employers to start preparing their workplace violence prevention plans well in advance. For those who haven’t begun, utilizing Cal/OSHA’s model plan is an advisable first step.

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California Workplace Violence Incident Log 2024

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California Workplace Violence Incident Log 2024

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Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Template 2024

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Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Template 2024

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FAQ

Per Labor Code section 6401.9, “workplace violence” is defined as any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.
  • An incident involving a threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.
  • The four types of workplace violence defined in Labor Code section 6401.9.

Note: “Workplace violence” does not include lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others.

According to the latest data, in 2021, 57 working people died from acts of workplace violence in California. In the United States, an average of 1.3 million nonfatal violent crimes in the workplace occurred annually from 2015 to 2019. For further details see Indicators of Workplace Violence, 2019 (published 2022).

To view highlights from the Indicators of Workplace Violence, 2019 report, visit the following Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink: Highlights from a New Report on Indicators of Workplace Violence.

When examining the circumstances associated with workplace assaults in California, acts of workplace violence events include four major types. However, workplaces may be subject to more than one type.

Type 1 Violence

“Type 1 Violence” means workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.

Examples include:

  1. Retail robberies
  2. Workplaces where employees or proprietors have face-to-face contact and exchange money with the public.
  3. Robberies of delivery, taxicab, and ride-hailing drivers.
  4. Janitors/maintenance workers
  5. Threats and acts of violence directed at security guards.

Type 2 Violence

“Type 2 violence” means workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.

Examples of workplaces include:

  1. Social welfare service providers in unemployment offices, welfare eligibility offices, homeless shelters, probation offices, and child welfare agencies;
  2. Social welfare service providers while onsite and during visits at residences.
  3. Teaching, administrative, and support staff in schools where students have a history of violent behavior; and
  4. Other types of service providers, e.g., justice system personnel, customer service representatives, and delivery personnel.

Type 3 Violence

A “Type 3 violence” means workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.

The primary target of a Type 3 event can be a co-employee, a supervisor, domestic partner, or manager of an individual who may be seeking revenge for what they perceive as unfair treatment at the workplace.

Type 4 Violence

“Type 4 violence” means workplace violence committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Multiple Types of Workplace Violence Events

Some occupations and workplaces may be at risk of more than one type of workplace violence event.

For example, retail establishments at risk for Type 1 events, like convenience stores, can also be at risk for Type 3 events. A convenience store employee can be fatally injured at the workplace during a robbery (Type 1), or because of a personal dispute with a non-employee (Type 3).

Initial Assessment and Evaluation of Risk Factors

Any preventive measure and procedure taken by an employer to correct, respond to, or prevent workplace violence, must be determined based on a thorough understanding of the risk factors and/or hazards associated with the various types of workplace violence that exist in the workplace.

Every employer must perform an initial assessment to identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards which have been shown to, or that may contribute to the risk of violence in the workplace. Potential factors that could exist in workplaces that may increase the risk of workplace violence include, but not limited to:

  1. Exchange of money.
  2. Working alone.
  3. Working at night and during early morning hours.
  4. Availability of valued items, e.g., money and jewelry.
  5. Guarding money or valuable property or possessions.
  6. Performing public safety or social welfare functions in the community.
  7. Working with clients, passengers, customers, or students known or suspected to have a history of violence; or
  8. Employees with a history of assaults or who have exhibited belligerent, intimidating, or threatening behavior to others.

Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP)

Employers are required to address workplace violence hazards to protect employees and comply with the regulatory requirement of establishing, implementing, and maintaining an effective written workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP). See Cal/OSHA’s Model written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan for General Industry (Non-Health Care settings) , which is available for use by employers as a resource guide.

Per LC 6401.9, employers must include the following required elements and effective procedures in their establishment’s written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) or include them as a separate section in their IIPP for Workplace Violence Prevention:

  • Names/Titles of persons responsible for implementing the written WVPP.
  • Procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in developing and implementing the WVPP.
  • Methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the plan with other employers.
  • Procedures to ensure that all employees (supervisory and nonsupervisory), comply with the WVPP.
  • Procedures to communicate and provide training to employees on workplace violence.
  • Procedures to identify, evaluate and correct workplace violence hazards.
  • Procedures on how to respond to actual or potential workplace violence, and how to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence, including procedures to prohibit retaliation against employees for reporting workplace violence.
  • Procedures for post-incident response and investigation.
  • Procedures to review WVPP for effectiveness and revise the plan as needed.
  • Procedures or other information required by the division and standards board as being necessary and appropriate to protect the health and safety of employees.
  • Employers can prevent and reduce the risk of workplace violence with an established, effectively implemented, and maintained WVPP, along with strong management commitment and the day-to-day involvement of all employees and their authorized representatives.
  • Ensure employees receive timely and appropriate medical treatment.
    • Employers must ensure all needed medical care is provided through the employer’s workers compensation insurance provider.
    • Employers must give employees notice of workers’ compensation eligibility within one working day of a workplace violence incident.
    • See further information from the Division of Workers Compensation .
  • Record required information about the violent incident in the employer’s violent incident log.
  • Investigate and evaluate the workplace violence incident and determine and implement changes needed to reduce workplace violence hazards in the workplace.
  • Review the effectiveness of the written workplace violence prevention plan and revise the plan if necessary.
  • Report all serious injuries and deaths, as defined in title 8, section 330(h) , to Cal/OSHA in accordance with title 8, section 342(a) .
  • Complete the “Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Illness” (Form 5020) for each injury or illness that results in lost time beyond the date of the incident or requires medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Record all cases on the Cal/OSHA Form 300 .
  • Records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction, for a minimum of five years.
  • Workplace violence prevention plan training records for a minimum of one year.
  • Violence Incident Logs for a minimum of five years.
  • Records of workplace violence incident investigations for a minimum of five years.
  • Cal/OSHA Form 300 for five years.

What is required for the Violent Incident Log?  

Employers must maintain a log for every workplace violence incident, including: 

  • Date, Time, and Location of the Incident: The log must record the specific date, time, and location where each violent incident occurred. 
  • Identification of the Type of Workplace Violence: The log should classify the incident according to the types of workplace violence as defined in the bill. 
  • Detailed Description of the Incident: A comprehensive description of what occurred during the incident is required. This includes the nature of the violence and how it unfolded. 
  • Classification of the Perpetrator: Information on who committed the violence should be included. This could be a client, customer, stranger with criminal intent, coworker, supervisor, manager, partner, spouse, parent, relative, or other. 
  • Circumstances at the Time of the Incident: The log should detail the circumstances under which the incident occurred, such as whether the employee was performing usual job duties, working in poorly lit areas, working during a low staffing level, or in an unfamiliar location. 
  • Consequences of the Incident: Information on whether security or law enforcement was contacted, their response, and actions taken to protect employees from a continuing threat or from any other hazards identified as a result of the incident. 
  • Person Completing the Log: The name, job title, and the date when the log was completed by the individual recording the incident. 
  • All records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction, as well as training records and violent incident logs, shall be made available to employees and their authorized representatives, upon request and without cost, for examination and copying within 15 calendar days of a request.
  • All workplace violence records, including violent incident investigations shall be made available to the division upon request.
  • All personal/employee information in records must adhere to privacy and HIPPA guidelines within reports.

California was the first state in the nation to pass a workplace violence law like SB 553. The law requires employers to create a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan and train workers on how to follow it. While training must include instructing employees how to report concerns to their employer and to law enforcement, the required elements go well beyond just reporting.

The training also must cover:

  • The statute’s definition of workplace violence.
  • The four types of workplace violence—criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship.
  • The employer’s plan.
  • The workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs.
  • How employees can protect themselves in the event of a workplace violence incident.
  • The law’s requirement that employees may request to review or copy the employer’s records relating to the workplace violence prevention plan, including the violent incident log that the statute requires. The log must include a detailed description of each workplace violence incident and be maintained for five years.

In addition, Employers should train workers on “red-flag behaviors” and ways to de-escalate heated situations.

Lastly, the training needs to be interactive, recorded, and recurring each year.

California employers must establish a written workplace violence prevention plan that includes:

  • The name and/or job title of the person responsible for implementing the program.
  • Procedures for the employer to receive and respond to reports of workplace violence, and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report.
  • Information about how an employee can report a violent incident, threat or other concern to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal.
  • Methods to alert employees of the presence, location and nature of workplace violence emergencies.
  • Evacuation or sheltering plans that are appropriate and feasible for the worksite.
  • Information about how employee concerns will be investigated and how employees will be informed of the results of the investigation.
  • Procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees in developing and implementing the violence prevention plan.
  • Procedures to review the effectiveness of the violence prevention plan and revise it as needed.

The new law does not apply to employers already covered by California’s existing workplace violence prevention standard for the health care industry, employees teleworking from a location of their own choice that is not under the employer’s control, and worksites that have fewer than 10 employees and are not accessible to the public.

1. Does the law require employers to report workplace violence events to Cal/OSHA?

Employers need to report only “serious” injuries or fatalities as required by Title 8 CCR §330(h) and §342. This law did not establish new reporting requirements.

2. Are employers with less than 10 employees automatically exempt from SB 553’s coverage?

No. However, the law exempts worksites with less than 10 employees. If the worksite has less than 10 employees present “at any given time” and is not “accessible to the public,” and the employer complies with the injury and illness prevention Cal/OSHA regulation, then the worksite may be exempt from the new law.

3. Are healthcare facilities required to comply with SB 553 and the Violence Prevention in Healthcare Regulation, §3342?

No. Health facilities are only required to comply with the Cal/OSHA regulation.

4. Does SB 553 require employers to provide training to all employees regardless of which state they are in or does this new law only apply in California?

This new law only applies to California employers and their California employees.

5. Do workplace violence incidents also go on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Log of Injuries and Illnesses (the OSHA Form 300 log)?

Employers are required to record information on the 300 log only if an employee was injured and meets the requirements of recording on the 300 log.

6. Can our workplace violence plan be added to an injury and illness prevention program (IIPP)?

Yes. It can be part of the IIPP or a stand-alone plan.

7. Will there be an opportunity for public comment during future Cal/OSHA rulemaking on workplace violence?

Yes. There will likely be an opportunity to provide comments in 2024.

8. How can employers make the workplace violence plan accessible to employees?

Many employers post their required safety plans on a company intranet or software platform. Employers may continue to make their workplace violence plans available in binders on the worksite or posting them on bulletin boards in common areas.

9. Does each work location need a dedicated plan or can an organization use a corporate plan for all sites?

If there are different hazards at different locations, then a company’s workplace violence prevention plan would need to be customized. If the company has consistent and similar hazards and risks across all its worksites, then the plan can be more uniform across a larger footprint.

10. Will Cal/OSHA publish a model program?

At this time, it is still unclear. Cal/OSHA has not updated its website to this effect or issued a press release regarding a model program.

11. Does the employee-involvement requirement in a company’s workplace violence plan also apply to nonunion worksites?

Yes. The employee-involvement requirement applies across all California employers that fall under SB 553.

12. Are animal attacks included considered workplace violence under SB 553?

Yes. This type of incident is called out for recording in the new law’s required violent incident log.

By Karen F. Tynan and Robert C. Rodriguez of Ogletree Deakens

ADDITIONAL INSIGHT

Frequently Asked Questions about Workplace Violence Prevention in General Industry

FAQs on the new requirements of SB 553 and other related information.

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This fact sheet is an overview of the California Senate Bill 553 (SB 553), which was signed into law on September 30, 2023.

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, affecting nearly 2 million American workers annually.

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DOWNLOAD WORD DOCUMENT

Employers are not required to use this model WVPP. They may create their own, use another WVPP template, or incorporate workplace violence prevention into their existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) as a separate section. Cal/OSHA requires employers to engage with employees in developing and implementing their WVPP. This model plan is intended to help employers develop a separate, stand-alone Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). It was written for a broad spectrum of employers, and it may not match your establishment’s exact needs. However, it provides the essential framework to identify, evaluate, and control workplace violence hazards.

Download a model written WVPP

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How Workplace Violence Impacts American Enterprises

Senate Bill (SB) 553 was signed into law in September 2023 and mandates a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) fornearly all California employers, effective July 1, 2024. Enforced under California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), SB 553outlines four types of workplace violence…

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