Get Prepared: California Employers Required to Implement Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1, 2024

Get Prepared: California Employers Required to Implement Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1, 2024

By Admin March 28, 2024    Category: Employment     Tags: California Employers chase law manhattan beach deanne chase Employee Training Employer Responsibility employment attorney employment law Labor Code 6410.9 Legal Compliance los angeles SB 553 small business small business law Workplace Incident Workplace Safety Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Get Prepared: California Employers Required to Implement Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1, 2024

Last year California passed SB 553, which is now Labor Code Section 6410.9, a first in the nation law requiring employers to implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (“WVPP”).  The new law mandates that employers create and implement a WVPP no later than July 1, 2024.  The WVPP must comply with key requirements of the new law, which will be enforced by Cal/OSHA, who may issue citations and penalties for violations.

Section 6401.9 applies to all California employers, with the following exceptions:

  • Employers who are already covered by the Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcare standard (or employers that already comply with that standard);
  • Employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice that is not under the control of the employer; and
  • Places of employment that are not accessible to the public and have less than 10 employees working at any given time.

The new law defines workplace violence as “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment.” Workplace violence may include the “threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.” Workplace violence also includes an “incident involving the threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.” Workplace violence may be committed by anyone who enters the workplace and covers workplace violence directed at current or former employees by customers, clients, or visitors, including an individual who has or has had a personal relationship with an employee. Thus, under the new law, a potentially threatening comment from a customer, significant other, or fellow employee that an employee subjectively perceives as traumatizing or stress-inducing may qualify as “workplace violence” and require an investigation and response from the employer.

The Requirements of a Written WVPP

Section 6401.9 requires employers to establish and maintain a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (“WVPP”) with specific required components and procedures. The WVPP must be in writing and available to employees at all times. The WVPP may appear as a standalone section in the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program or as a separate document.  The following are the key requirements of a WVPP under Labor Code section 6401.9:

  • It must identify the names of the person(s) or their job titles that are responsible for implementing the WVPP;
  • It must set forth effective procedures allowing for active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in developing and implementing the WVPP;
  • It must set forth methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the WVPP with other employers, when applicable;
  • The plan must have effective procedures to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence, and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report;

Additionally, the plan must have procedures for the following:

  • To ensure compliance from all employees, including supervisors;
  • To communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including how an employee can report a violence concern as well as how those concerns will be investigated and/or corrected;
  • To respond to workplace violence emergencies;
  • To develop and provide required training under Section 6401.9;
  • The procedures must identify, evaluate and correct workplace violence hazards in a timely manner;
  • There must also be procedures for post-incident response and investigation; and
  • The plan must have procedures to review the effectiveness of the WVPP periodically and, if workplace violence incident occurs, how to revise the WVPP as needed.

Maintaining a Workplace Incident Log

The plan must include an incident log maintained by employers that records “every workplace violence incident” that occurs in the workplace regardless of whether they resulted in an injury. The log entry must include the following:

  • The date, time and location of the incident.
  • Identification of the type of workplace violence that occurred.
  • A detailed description of the incident that includes classifications on who committed the violence, the circumstances at the time of the incident, and where the incident occurred.
  • Consequences of the incident, including any involvement of law enforcement and any actions taken to protect employees from a continuing threat or from any other hazards identified as a result of the incident.
  • Information about the person completing the log entry.

Required Training

The plan must include employee training that covers the following topics:

  • The employer’s WVPP
  • How to obtain a copy of the WVPP at no cost
  • How to participate in development and implementation of the WVPP
  • The definitions and requirements under Section 6401.9
  • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal
  • Information regarding workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs
  • Corrective measures that the employer has implemented
  • How employees can “seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm;” and
  • The employer’s violence incident log and how to obtain copies of required records

Employers must provide the above training when the WVPP is first established and annually thereafter. As part of the training, employers also must provide employees with an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the WVPP. Additional training must take place when a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard has been identified or when changes are made to the WVPP (but may be limited to addressing the new hazard or change).

Recordkeeping Requirements

The new law also requires that employers create and maintain training records for a minimum of one year. Moreover, the following records must be maintained for a minimum of five years:

  • Records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction (i.e., workplace violence hazard assessments)
  • Violence incident logs and
  • Workplace violence incident investigations (these records, however, should not contain “medical information”).

Section 6401.9 requires employers to make all required records available to Cal/OSHA upon request for examination and copying. Additionally, hazard assessment records, training records, and violent incident logs must be made available to employees and their representatives, upon request and without cost, for examination and copying within 15 calendar days of a request.

Employers should ensure that they have implemented their WVPP by the July 1, 2024 deadline.  If you have any questions regarding Labor Code 6401.9’s new requirements or would like assistance in creating a compliant WVPP, contact employment attorney Scott Liner at [email protected] today or call 310-545-7700. Chase Law Group is ready to assist your organization and can provide a compliant Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Program for a flat rate.