Senate Bill No. 553 (SB 553) requires California employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Program by July 1, 2024.

SB 553 applies to all California employers. Employers must develop and implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Program specific to their workplace. Program  development requires active involvement of employees in creating and implementing the Program. Employee training must be conducted when the Program is first implemented, and annually thereafter.   Employers must be prepared to conduct ongoing workplace violence hazard inspections, with such procedures detailed in the Program. Hazard evaluation and inspections must be completed when the Program is first created, after each incident, and whenever the employer is made aware of a new hazard.  In addition to investigating workplace violence incidents, employers must maintain an incident log along with other recordkeeping requirements.  All California employees and employers are covered by SB 533 with the following notable exemptions: The employer must meet all of the following:

  • Places of employment/offices are not accessible by the public.
  • Employer has less than 10 employees.
  • The employer must have an updated Injury and Illness Prevention Program that is OSHA compliant.

The employer’s written Workplace Violence Prevention Program must detail specific procedures related to workplace safety, including:

  • Clear identification of the name or job title of the individual responsible for the Program;
  • Description of how employees will have active participation and involvement in the Program. Participation includes ongoing employee identification of workplace hazards, training involvement and reporting incidents in the workplace and an Employee training process.
  • The employer’s response protocol to reports of workplace violence.
  • Corrective procedures when hazards are identified.
  • Post incident response and investigation practices.
  • Plans for ongoing workplace violence prevention assessment, required inspections, and identification of potential hazards.
  • Protocol for the workplace to obtain assistance from law enforcement, evacuation plans and responding to workplace violence emergencies.
  • Details regarding ongoing employee communication about workplace violence including how an employee can report concerns without fear of retaliation.
  • Procedures for ensuring compliance with the Program such as recognition for those who follow and exhibit safe work practices and disciplinary actions when necessary.
  • Annual evaluation of the Program.

The Program must be in writing, easily accessible to all employees, specific to the worksite, and in effect at all times. The Program must be customized for different locations if the worksite locations pose different hazards.  Additionally, the Program must be reviewed and revised annually when a Program component appears to be ineffective, and after an incident of workplace violence occurs. The Program may be included in an employer’s existing Injury Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) or as a standalone document.

  • A review of the employer’s Workplace Violence Prevention Program and workplace hazard specifics, along with education of SB 553 definitions and requirements;
  •  Information on how employees can report incidents, how to respond to threats of violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm;
  • Education on the incident log and the hazards specific to their job; and
  • The unique hazards to each workplace location and various job functions.

Given the requirements to tailor the training to work locations and job functions, employers will likely be required to be involved in developing trainings, rather than relying on a generalized training source.

Employers have an obligation to investigate incidents and reports of workplace violence and maintain a detailed violence log for every incident. Specific information regarding the investigation must be recorded and maintained, though logs must exclude personal identifying information. Violence incident logs and other hazard identification records must be periodically reviewed and maintained for a minimum of 5 years. Additionally, employers have a duty to communicate the results of the investigation with the employee involved in reporting the concern.  Employers are also required to maintain training records for a minimum of one year.  Records of hazard identification and correction, company training session records and the Violence Incident Logs can be requested by employees and must be provided within 15 calendar days of request. In addition to these records, records or workplace violence incident investigations must be made available to Cal/OSHA upon request.

All employers should be preparing a strategy to develop the required Workplace Violence Program, creating trainings, and identifying individuals who will implement the Program and be responsible for maintaining the Program moving forward.  Employers need to recognize that the employee involvement requirement is unlike other current California regulations and evaluate whether you will need additional Programs customized for various workplace settings and locations.

Be sure to have your written Workplace Violence Prevention Program in place by July 1, 2024 to protect your employees from potential workplace violence claims.