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Navigating California's New Workplace Violence Protection Plan: A Guide for Employers

March 28, 2024

What is SB 553?

Senate Bill 553 (SB 553), signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2023, is groundbreaking legislation in California aimed at preventing workplace violence across most sectors, excluding certain exemptions. This law mandates that California employers develop and implement a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) by July 1, 2024. SB 553 encompasses requirements for incident reporting, employee training, maintaining a violent incident log, and tailoring the WVPP to the specific hazards and conditions of each worksite. With the introduction of SB 553, California sets a precedent in the United States for general-industry safety requirements focused on workplace violence prevention. This plan can be stand alone or contained within the Injury Illness Prevention Plan - IIPP which every employer is required to have.

Now, let's broaden our understanding with additional research to craft a comprehensive blog on the subject.

Navigating California's New Workplace Violence Protection Plan: A Guide for Employers

In the wake of growing concerns over workplace safety, California has enacted Senate Bill 553 (SB 553), introducing rigorous requirements for workplace violence prevention plans (WVPP) for most employers. This landmark legislation, effective July 1, 2024, aims to curb the rising tide of workplace violence and ensure a safer environment for all California workers.

What SB 553 Entails

SB 553 mandates that virtually all employers in California, with specific exceptions, implement a comprehensive WVPP. This requirement is part of a broader initiative to address and mitigate workplace violence through proactive measures, including incident reporting, employee training, and maintaining a violent incident log. Employers are urged to start drafting their WVPP well in advance of the July 1, 2024, deadline, using resources such as Cal/OSHA's model plan which provides a framework and key components for compliance.

Key Provisions and Requirements

The legislation underscores several critical areas for employers to focus on, including:

• Plan Implementation and Employee Training: Employers must establish procedures for the WVPP's implementation, which encompasses periodic inspections, annual reviews, and comprehensive training for all employees. The training should cover various aspects of the WVPP, including how to report incidents and participate in the plan's development and implementation.

• Violent Incident Log and Reporting: A violent incident log must be maintained on file for five years, with training records kept for one year. This log is crucial for documenting incidents of workplace violence and serves as a reference point for both compliance and continuous improvement efforts.

• Customization and Accessibility: The WVPP must be tailored to address the specific hazards and conditions of each worksite, ensuring relevance and effectiveness. Moreover, the plan should be readily accessible to employees, which can be achieved through various means such as company intranets, physical binders on the worksite, or bulletin boards in common areas.

• Active Assailant Training and Legal Liability: While SB 553 does not explicitly require Active Assailant Training, the prevalence of mass shootings has made such training increasingly relevant. Employers are encouraged to consider integrating Active Assailant Training into their overall workplace violence prevention strategy, balancing the need for preparedness with potential legal liabilities.

Exemptions and Considerations

Notably, SB 553 offers exemptions for specific employer categories, such as facilities    already covered by the Cal/OSHA Violence Prevention in Healthcare standard and employees who telework from locations not under the employer's control. Despite these exemptions, the vast majority of California employers are within the scope of this legislation, necessitating prompt and thorough compliance efforts.

Looking Ahead

As the deadline approaches, employers must take proactive steps to comply with SB 553's requirements. This includes drafting a WVPP that not only meets legal standards but also effectively addresses the unique challenges and hazards of their workplace. Employers should leverage available resources, such as Cal/OSHA's model plan and external training programs, to ensure a comprehensive and effective approach to workplace violence prevention.

The enactment of SB 553 marks a significant step forward in the fight against workplace violence in California. By fostering a culture of safety and vigilance, employers can protect their employees from harm and create a more secure and productive work environment.

For more detailed guidance and resources on complying with SB 553, employers are encouraged to consult Cal/OSHA's model workplace violence prevention plan and consider seeking legal or professional advice to navigate the complexities of this important legislation.

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