Newly Published FAQs for the Workplace Violence Prevention Law

Workplace violence is a serious concern in the United States of America, California not being an exception. Many workers report being victims of workplace violence every year. If employers take appropriate actions, workplace violence can be prevented or minimized. Senate Bill (SB) 553, signed in 2023, aims to prevent and mitigate incidents of workplace violence in California. The new law requires most California employers to create, implement, and maintain an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). Covered employers must comply with the requirements under SB 553. Failure to comply with the law could result in penalties. Recently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the state agency responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for California workers, published some FAQs to help with compliance. However, the information is beneficial even for employees.

The following are some of the questions OSHA addresses in the recent publication.

What is the definition of “workplace violence” in general industry (non-healthcare settings)?

Workplace violence is any act or threat of violence that happens in a place of employment. This includes physical force, incidents involving firearms or other dangerous weapons, and four types of workplace violence: Type 1, 2, 3, and 4. Additionally, OSHA explains that animal attacks are considered workplace violence. Incidents of animal attacks must be documented in the violent incident logs.

Which employers are covered?

The new law applies to all employers, employees, workplaces, and employer-provided housing, excluding a few listed under the law. Buildings or locations required to comply with CCR T8 3342 are not required to comply with SB 553.

Does each work location require a dedicated plan?

An employer cannot use a corporate plan for all sites. An employer’s written WVPP must be specific to each location and operation’s risks and corrective measures.

Can a WVPP be added to an IIPP?

According to Cal/OSHA, employers can include their workplace violence prevention plan in the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

Must an employer use the WVPP developed by Cal/OSHA?

Employers are not required to use the WVPP developed by Cal/OSHA. An employer who does not include their plan in their IIPP as a separate section can create their own template or use another template.

Can employers develop their violent incident log?

Employers can develop their violent incident log as long as the required information complies with the requirements listed in the Labor code.

Are employers required to train all employees regardless of their state, or does the law only apply in California?

According to Cal/OSHA, employers are responsible for providing effective training to their employees in California.

How can the plan be made available to employees?

This may depend on the nature of the place of employment. The plan could be made available in common areas, on the company website, or in a binder. Whatever option an employer chooses, they must ensure the WVPP is always available and easily accessible to employees, employee representatives, and Cal/OSHA representatives.

When does SB 553 become effective?

SB 553 goes into effect on July 1, 2024.

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