Ready to Create Your Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan?

04.11.24Baylee Davies

Ensuring a safe workplace is a key part of managing a business and shows concern for the well-being of employees.  It is essential for employers to have effective plans in place to address and mitigate the risks associated with workplace violence. In California, SB 553 outlines specific requirements for creating workplace violence prevention plans, emphasizing the need for comprehensive strategies to safeguard employees.

SB 553 mandates that covered employers develop and implement a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1st, 2024 to protect employees from foreseeable violence and ensure a safe working environment. The new law applies to all employers and employees except the following:

  1. Employees who telework from a location of the employee’s choice, which is not under the control of the employer.
  2. Places of employment where there are less than 10 employees working at the place at any given time and that are not accessible to the public.
  3. Healthcare facilities, service categories, and operations covered by and whom comply with Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  4. Facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, if the facilities are in compliance with Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  5. Employers that are law enforcement agencies as defined in the California Code of Regulations and who meet other requirements.

A thorough risk assessment is the foundation of any workplace violence prevention plan. Employers must identify and evaluate potential risks associated with their workplace. This includes assessing factors such as the nature of the work, location of the employee’s worksite(s), and interactions with the public. Consulting supervisors and employees is key to ensuring a complete understanding of the risks involved in the workplace.

Based on the findings of the risk assessment, employers should develop clear and concise policies and procedures aimed at preventing their particular workplace violence risks. This should include not only mitigation for risks in the office but also on the road and at customer’s worksites and homes if employees travel or visit customers for work outside the office.

Your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan must be specifically tailored to your workplace using policies and procedures developed based on your Risk and Mitigation Assessments.

These policies and procedures should outline expectations for employee behavior, reporting mechanisms for potential threats or incidents, and protocols for responding to emergencies. It also must include:

  1. Employees who are responsible for implementing the plan. 
  2. Procedures used to obtain the involvement of employees in developing and implementing the plan.
  3. Process the employer will use to ensure employees understand their respective roles including providing them with training on the plan and information on how to identify and report workplace violence hazards.
  4. Process and procedures to be used to identify and correct workplace violence hazards, including scheduling periodic inspections to identify unsafe workplace practices and concerns.
  5. Procedures on how to respond to actual workplace violence incidents, including those that are emergencies.
  6. Procedures to investigate post-workplace violence incidents and correct any preventable hazards for the future.
  7. Procedures for reviewing the effectiveness of the plan and revising the plan as needed.

Establishing a robust incident reporting and investigation process in your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan is critical for addressing workplace violence incidents promptly and effectively. Employees should be encouraged to report any incidents, threats, or concerning behaviors promptly and without fear of retaliation. Employers must then investigate reported incidents thoroughly, document findings, and take appropriate corrective actions.

As of  July 1, 2024, employers are required to maintain a violent incident log for every occurrence of workplace violence. The log must include details about the incident, who committed the violence, the consequences of the incident, what actions the employer took, including if law enforcement was called, and what the employer will do to protect against another such threat in the future.

Proper training is essential to ensure that employees understand the risks of workplace violence and know how to respond effectively. Training programs should cover the information in the company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and it is a good idea to include topics such as recognizing warning signs of aggression, de-escalation techniques, and conflict resolution strategies. Training should be provided to all employees, including managers and frontline staff at the time of the development of the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and annually thereafter.

Collaboration between employers and employees is key to the success of a workplace violence prevention plan. Employers should foster an open and transparent communication culture, where employees feel comfortable raising safety concerns and sharing information so that more serious workplace violence incidents can hopefully be prevented.

Workplace violence prevention is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation and improvement. Employers should periodically review and assess the effectiveness of their prevention plan, considering feedback from employees, incident data, and changes in the work environment or industry standards. Based on these evaluations, employers should make necessary adjustments to their policies, procedures, and training programs.

Cal OSHA has developed guidance and resources to assist employers with creating their Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. These resources include a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan template, Fact Sheets for employers and employees, and FAQs that identify the types of workplace violence employers should be considering when developing their plans.

By following the key components outlined above and taking a proactive approach to addressing workplace violence, employers can create a safer and more secure work environment for their employees. Prevention is always better than reaction when it comes to safeguarding against workplace violence.

Creating a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan customized for your business can be a complicated and daunting task. Even though Cal OSHA provides several resources and templates, employers must do the upfront work to ensure the plan is effective and customized for their particular working environment. At SDHR Consulting our knowledgeable consultants can assist with the process needed to create your own Workplace Violence Prevention Plan that takes into account the particular needs of your employees and your workplace.  Contact us for more assistance.