CA SB 553: March 2024 CAL/OSHA Update

SB 553: ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE

In an earlier post we provided an overview of California's new workplace violence prevention mandate, CA SB 553.  On March 5, 2024, CAL/OSHA provided additional guidance for employers regarding implementation of the new law. Specifically, CAL/OSHA provided a generic template for a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan that is compliant with the new law. 

Employers with operations in California should review this new information carefully to ensure compliance.

We have summarized the main points in this document. We recommend organizations pay particular attention to those portions of the new CAL/OSHA policy template that is highlighted in Red. These comments provide suggestions and specific guidance to ensure your policy will comply with the new law.

Background

Effective July 1, 2024, all California employers, unless exempted, must establish, implement, and maintain an effective workplace violence (WPV) prevention plan that, among other mandates, includes the following elements:

  • Sets forth a protocol for reports of WPV
  • Prohibits retaliation against an employee reporting WPV incidents
  • Identifies a process to alert employees to a WPV emergency
  • Establishes procedures to identify and evaluate WPV hazards
  • Describes procedures for post-incident response and investigation
  • Describes initial and annual training for employes on the WPV Plan

Employers are also required to maintain the following records:

  • WPV training records
  • A violent incident log for every reported WPV incident
  • Records of all WPV investigations

Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

While the new law mandates employee participation in developing a workplace violence prevention plan, Cal/OSHA offers little guidance regarding what constitutes effective employee participation.  Employers should address this requirement when developing and implementing a workplace violence prevention plan.

We suggest the following as best practices to obtain employee participation in the planning process:

  • Consult with employee advisory groups such as a workplace safety committee or workplace violence prevention committee if you have one.
  • Consultation with union leadership and other collective bargaining units.
  • Solicit feedback from employees during annual workplace violence prevention training sessions.
  • Employee feedback can also be solicited through climate surveys and other annual assessments.
  • Employers may also ask employees about their concerns regarding workplace violence during annual performance reviews.

Regardless of which method(s) is/are chosen, all such efforts must be fully documented, and any data collected should be incorporated into your annual assessment of workplace hazards.

Start Planning Now

The new law requires employers to have an “effective” program to prevent workplace violence by JULY 1, 2024 when CAL/OSHA will begin enforcement.

Recommendations for Organizations

Using the new policy template as a guide, review your existing Workplace Violence Prevention Plans to ensure compliance with SB 553.  (NOTE:  While SB 553 only applies to your operations in California, we urge our clients to standardize Workplace Violence Prevention Plans enterprise-wide.)

  • Implement a Workplace Violence Incident Tracking Protocol
  • Develop a protocol for collecting and incorporating employee feedback into your Workplace Violence Prevention planning.  Ensure such efforts are fully documented.
  • Update Workplace Violence Training Materials to reflect the requirements of SB 553. 
  • Conduct periodic evaluations to identify and mitigate Workplace Violence Hazards.
  • Develop and implement a Workplace Violence Incident Emergency Notification System.

As the July 1, 2024 deadline approaches, it's crucial for California employers to update their Workplace Violence Prevention Plans in line with SB 553.  Utilizing CAL/OSHA's recent guidance and involving employees in the process are key steps towards ensuring a safer, compliant workplace. This proactive approach underscores a commitment to employee well-being and sets a benchmark for workplace safety.

 


About the Authors

DON ROBINSON

Certified Threat Manager & Worplace Violence Expert. Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent

JAMES SPORLEDER

Workplace Violence Prevention & Response Training Expert (Military and Private Sector)

  • Learn More About Don

    For 23 years, Don worked for the FBI – specializing in counterterrorism, organized crime, and narcotics investigations. After retiring, Don began a second career in behavioral health where he established one of the first Behavioral Health Crisis Centers and served as the Manager of Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Services at a 296-bed community hospital. He is an experienced Crisis/Hostage Negotiator, a Certified Threat Manager®, and a certified law enforcement instructor. Don has trained foreign and domestic governmental agencies, law enforcement/security entities, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, social service agencies and community non-profit organizations.
  • Learn More About James

    James has more than 25 years' experience in the security industry. With a unique background in specialized captivity survival, James has trained thousands of US military personnel from one of the most elite units in the US Department of Defense. He’s worked in the corporate arena for more than 17 years, focusing on the development and implementation of specialized training programs and helping more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100 prepare for and respond to emerging challenges related to workplace violence, intimate partner violence, and extreme violence such as active shooter.

NOTE:
This summary of recent legislation is provided from our perspective as practitioners of workplace violence prevention, intervention, response, and associated behavioral threat assessment.  Employers should consult with their own legal counsel regarding the legal implications of this new legislation.

Recommended Training - Getting Real About Workplace Violence

Known for making people mindful, not fearful, Getting Real About Workplace Violence is your best choice for Workplace Violence Prevention training. The California course and accompanying employer resources enable you to fully comply with SB 553.