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Deadline for CA Employers to Adopt New Workplace Violence Prevention Plans Approaches

Organizations with operations in California are reminded of the upcoming July 1, 2024 deadline to comply with the provisions of S.B. 553—a bill that was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 20, 2023, following swift passage by both houses of the California State Legislature earlier in the same month. 

Among other things, S.B. 553 officially amends the California Labor Code (“Labor Code”) to require almost all employers (with limited exceptions) to implement and maintain an effective written workplace violence prevention plan (“WVPP”) as a supplement to existing workplace injury and illness prevention requirements. Notably, the provisions of S.B. 553 apply broadly to all California employers and all employment locations, unless specifically exempted under Section 6401.9 of the Labor Code. Exempt organizations and locations include, but are not limited to: (1) certain facilities, service categories, and operations otherwise regulated by violence prevention in health care regulations; (2) facilities operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; (3) certain law enforcement agencies; (4) off-site telework locations that are chosen by the employee and not under the control of the employer; and (5) places of employment having less than ten (10) employees that are not immediately accessible by the general public. 

S.B. 553 contains a litany of specific requirements that employers must remain cognizant of when preparing a suitable WVPP. This includes a detailed accounting of effective procedures the employer has utilized to solicit the active participation of employees and employee representatives in the development and implementation of the WVPP; a description of the process relied on by the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence; a delineation of the specific procedures used by the employer to proactively identify and objectively evaluate workplace violence hazards; and a synopsis setting forth the relevant review procedures that an organization plans to utilize to periodically modify and revise the WVPP. These requirements are supplemented by other provisions that legally obligate an employer to maintain a suitable incident log for each and every instance of workplace violence and provide both initial and recurring training to employees concerning the contents of the WVPP.

Importantly, employers are also obliged to maintain certain WVPP-related records—including records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation and correction, as well as violence incident logs, and records related to any investigations thereof—for a period of not less than five (5) years. Finally, covered employers that fail to comply with the requirements of S.B. 553 face the potential for fines and other penalties imposed against them by the CA Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”), the executive department principally responsible for the administration of the new WVPP requirements. 

General information concerning compliance with S.B. 553—including several helpful fact sheets and a model WVPP—are available at the Cal/OSHA website. In addition, The Volkov Law Group continues to assist employers covered by the new statute with preparing and reviewing suitable WVPPs. 

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