Understanding California’s SB 553: Workplace Violence Prevention

by | Mar 7, 2024 | 0 comments

workplace violence laws california

Enacted with the aim of bolstering safety standards, SB 553 focuses on the prevention and management of workplace violence.

Effective July 1, 2024, most California employers must implement a comprehensive workplace prevention plan, and train employees annually on those plans. There is no compliance grace period.

Diving Deep into CA SB 553

SB 553 is a milestone in labor law legislation, implementing robust safeguards regarding workplace violence prevention. It requires employers to develop their own workplace violence prevention plans as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Plans (IIPP). Crucially, these plans must be tailored to the specific nature and circumstances of each employer’s workplace, with the key goals of prevention, intervention, and employee assistance.

Key Provisions

  • Customized Prevention Plans: Employers must create workplace-specific violence prevention plans and integrate them within their IIPP framework. The plan must also identify the names or job titles of the individuals responsible for implementing the plan.
  • Employee Engagement and Involvement: A cornerstone of SB 553 is the active participation of employees in the development, implementation, and review of these violence prevention strategies.
  • Training and Awareness: Employers must provide their personnel with annual training on the following:
    • The employer’s plan
    • The definitions and requirements of the law
    • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns
    • Workplace hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence and strategies to avoid physical harm
    • The violent incident log and how to get copies of violent incident records
  • The training must include “an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s plan.” And employers must keep records that reflect the dates, substance of the trainings, and the names and job titles of all trainers and attendees.
  • Comprehensive Reporting: The law outlines procedures for reporting workplace violence incidents, with a sharp focus on follow-up measures and intervention strategies.
  • Protocols for High-Risk Situations: Employers must craft protocols for incidents of violence, including emergency response actions and establishing liaison procedures with emergency response agencies.

In addition, while existing legislation permits an employer to seek a temporary restraining order for an employee who has experienced unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence at the workplace, SB 553 enables a collective bargaining representative to also file a restraining order on the employee’s behalf.

Before proceeding with the restraining order, the employer or representative must give the affected employee the option to remain unnamed in the order.

The California Occupational Health and Safety Administration (Cal/OSHA) will enforce SB 553. Violations of this law will result in civil penalties and potential misdemeanors.

Who is Impacted?

The statute applies to California employers with at least one employee, with a few exceptions:

    • Employers who are already abiding by Cal/OSHA’s Violence Prevention In Health Care standard (typically health care facilities).
    • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employers and law enforcement agencies.
    • Employees who carry out their work remotely from a location outside the employer’s control.
    • Employers with ten or fewer employees working in a location not open to the public.
    • Employers whose employees are located outside of California. The law only applies to California employers and their California employees.

Ensuring Compliance and Safety

Navigating CA SB 553 is not just about compliance; it is a move toward a culture that values its workers’ safety unequivocally. As the law’s enactment approaches, prioritize these considerations:

  • Leadership Buy-In and Commitment: An effective violence prevention plan begins with leadership’s firm commitment to its implementation and continual fine-tuning.
  • Community and Industry Collaboration: Engage with industry peers and community organizations to share insights and learn from a wider network.
  • Experienced Legal Counsel: Seek counsel from professionals with expertise in California laws to ensure your workplace is fully compliant.

For more comprehensive guidance on crafting a prevention plan, we encourage you to explore Cal/OSHA’s official resources and legal advisories.

As you chart your path to compliance, remember that every step you take brings you closer to a safer, more secure work environment for all.

Consulting with a legal professional specializing in California employment law can be invaluable. Please reach out to us! We are here to help and are happy to discuss your specific situation.