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California Senate Bill 553 – Workplace violence safety requirements

The California Senate Bill 553 was signed into law in September 2023.

It introduces a set of crucial provisions designed to enhance workplace safety and will take effect on July 1, 2024.

In this article, we summarize the law, discuss who it affects, and what steps you might need to take to stay in compliance.

 

Who does it affect? 

Business locations which either have over 10 employees or are open to the public.   

 

Action items 

If we already do periodic site visits to your facility as a part of our compliance management service, our project managers will be doing a review of your IIPP to ensure this section is included.   

Alternately, if you would like assistance reviewing the IIPP program that you have in place or just adding a custom Workplace Violence Prevention Program to it, please contact us at info@cdms.com. We look forward to assisting you. 

 

CDMS’s Analysis 

Senate Bill 553 represents a necessary addition to the IIPP by addressing workplace violence. CDMS has updated its plans and training to include this section.  As we approach the implementation date of July 1, 2024, it is important for employers to be aware of these new requirements, update their IIPPs and schedule training soon.   

 

Overview 

Ensuring the safety and well-being of employees in the workplace has been a big topic of discussion the past couple of years, and recent legislative developments reflect this. Senate Bill 553, spearheaded by the United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council, is set to introduce changes aimed at safeguarding employees from workplace violence. This bill not only requires employers to establish an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) but also provides the means for collective bargaining representatives to seek restraining orders on behalf of affected employees. 

 

The Bill in a Nutshell 

Senate Bill 553, passed into law, introduces a set of crucial provisions designed to enhance workplace safety: 

  1. Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO): Beginning January 1, 2025, this bill empowers collective bargaining representatives, alongside employers, to seek Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) for employees who have suffered unlawful violence or credible threats of violence at the workplace.
  2. Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP): Every employer, as part of the existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), is mandated to establish, implement, and maintain an effective WVPP. This plan should be written, easily accessible, and available at all times.
  3. Exemptions: While the WVPP requirement generally applies to most industries, specific exemptions are made for health care facilities, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-operated facilities, law enforcement agencies meeting certain criteria, teleworking employees, and places of employment with fewer than ten employees.
  4. Definitions: The bill offers clear definitions of workplace violence, covering incidents that involve physical force, threats, the use of firearms, and dangerous weapons. It does not encompass lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others.
  5. Elements of the Plan: The WVPP must include essential elements such as defining responsibilities, employee involvement, coordination, reporting procedures, and post-incident responses, among others.
  6. Violent Incident Logs: Employers must maintain logs recording information about workplace violence incidents. This information is based on employee accounts, witness statements, and investigation findings while ensuring personal identifying information is excluded.
  7. Training Provisions: Employers must provide effective training, suitable for employee education levels and language abilities, covering the elements of the WVPP. This training must be provided annually.
  8. Enforcement and Recordkeeping: Employers are required to maintain WVPP, training, and incident records for up to five years and make them available for examination. Cal/OSHA will enforce these provisions and issue citations accordingly.
  9. Future Developments: Cal/OSHA will propose standards regarding WVPP, with the intention of adoption, to ensure the health and safety of employees, as well as to extend these protections to all California workplaces.