California Bill to Prevent Workplace Violence

by | May 7, 2024 | Politics Featured

Workplace violence is on the rise and has become the second leading cause of workplace fatalities in America. To attempt to address the issue head-on, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill No. 553 on September 20, 2023. This bill makes California the first state to require employers to create and implement a workplace violence plan. The goal of the bill is to set in place basic protections for employees in order to safeguard them from workplace violence.

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2024, at which time employers will be required to develop and execute a Workplace Violence Protection Plan. While most employers in California will be expected to adhere to the bill, there are a few exceptions. These include:

  • Healthcare workers who are already covered in a separate workplace violence standard
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Employees working from home
  • Places of employment with fewer than 10 employees, where the location isn’t open to the public

One unique feature of the new bill is that it requires employees themselves to have direct involvement in creating and implementing the protection plan. Having employee feedback will help produce a plan that is specific to their workplace. The bill also provides for extensive employee training. The training will be updated annually, as well as whenever new workplace violence hazards are identified.

Some of the areas that employers need to cover in the new violence protection plan include:

  • Developing emergency response policies, including evacuation plans and procedures for contacting law enforcement agencies
  • Evaluating and correcting workplace hazards
  • Methods for proper training, communication, and implementation of the plan
  • Identifying the person responsible for the plan
  • Having a post-incident plan of action
  • Methods to establish employee compliance with the plan, whether through positive or negative reinforcement

Employers are also required to develop procedures for employees to safely report incidents of workplace violence. Employers must accept and respond to these reports while protecting employees from retaliation.

The Workplace Violence Protection Plan must be in writing and easily accessible to all employees. If an employer has multiple locations with different potential hazards, then the plan must be adjusted for each location.

Additionally, a log must be kept of all incidents of workplace violence, including those which didn’t result in any injury. The log will provide details of the time, place, circumstances, and outcome of the incident.

With the implementation of this new protection plan, workplaces in California will have new tools and resources available to proactively address incidents of workplace violence.

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