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California offers extensive workplace safety safeguards under the state’s Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSH) Act and related laws, in addition to the protections given to employees under federal law.

Cal/OSH mandates a number of workplace safety regulations that apply to the majority of enterprises in California, including a mandate to establish, implement, and maintain an efficient injury and illness prevention program (IIPP). As of July 1, 2024, a new law Senate Bill (SB) 533 will require employers to include a written workplace violence prevention (WVP) plan as part of their IIPPs, along with:

  • Keep a record of certain workplace incidents in a violent incident log
  • Provide annual WVP training to all employees
  • Create and maintain certain records

This Employment Law Summary provides additional information about these new requirements.

Covered Employers

SB 553 generally applies to all employers, employees, places of employment and employer-provided housing in California.

However, most health care facilities, prisons, and law enforcement agencies are exempt from the new requirements. Exemptions are also available for:

  • Employees working remotely at a location that is not under the employer’s control
  • Workplaces that are not accessible to the public and in which fewer than 10 employees are working at any given time

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), which is the agency that enforces Cal/OSH, may order any exempt employer to comply with the new law.

Written WVP Plan

A WVP Plan may be incorporated as its own section in an employer’s existing IIPP or maintained as a separate document. Either way, the requirements for a WVP plan are as follows:

  • It must be in writing
  • It must be available and easily accessible to Cal/OSHA, employees, and their representatives at all times
  • It must be in effect at all times and in all work areas
  • It must be specific to the hazards and corrective measures for each work area and operation

Content Requirements

At minimum, the law requires an effective WVP plan must include the names and job titles of individuals responsible for implementing a plan, along with the following:

PLAN PROCEDURES WVP WRITTEN PLAN MUST EXPLAIN HOW THE EMPLOYER WILL:
Employee Involvement Obtain employees’ active involvement in developing and implementing the plan.
Employer Coordination Coordinate implementation with other employers, when applicable, to ensure compliance.
Incident Reporting Accept and respond to reports of workplace violence and prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes a report.
Employee Compliance Ensure that both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees comply.
Employee Communication Communicate with employees about workplace violence matters.
Emergency Response Respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies.
Employee Training Develop and provide the required WVP training.
Hazard Identification Conduct periodic and incident- or hazard-specific inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices.
Incident and Hazard Response Respond to, investigate, and correct reports of workplace violence and hazards.
Plan Review and Revision Review the effectiveness of and revise the plan as needed, annually, when a deficiency is observed or becomes apparent, and after a workplace violence incident.

The WVP plan must also include any procedures or other information required by Cal/OSHA as being necessary and appropriate to protect the health and safety of employees.

Violent Incident Log

Every instance of workplace violence must be documented by employers in a violent incident log. Each incident log must contain information gathered from the employees who experienced workplace violence, as well as witness testimonies and investigative results.

Employers are required to remove any personally identifiable information that could reveal the identity of any individual involved in a violent incident. This includes the individual’s name, address, phone number, email address, Social Security number, or any other details that, by themselves or in conjunction with other information that is readily available to the public, disclose the individual’s identity.

The table below lists the information that must be included in each WVP log entry.

VIOLENT INCIDENT LOG ENTRY
Date, time, and location of the incident
Types of workplace violence involved in the incident (identified in the law as types 1-4, generally depending on the relationship between perpetrator and victim)
Detailed description of the incident
Classification of who committed the violence
Classification of circumstances at the time of the incident, such as whether the employee was completing usual job duties or working in poorly lit areas
Classification of where the incident occurred, such as in the workplace, parking lot, or other area outside the workplace
Type of incident, such as physical attack with or without a weapon
Consequences of the incident, including actions taken to protect employees from a continuing threat or from any other hazards identified
Name and job title of the person completing the log, along with the date completed

WVP Training Program

SB 553 requires employers to provide effective WVP training to each employee when the employer’s WVP plan is first established and every year thereafter.

When there are changes to the plan or after a new workplace violence hazard has been identified, additional training must be provided, which may be limited to only addressing the incident or plan change.

Listed below are the minimal required content items for a WVP training program.

WVP TRAINING PROGRAM MUST INCLUDE:
The employer’s plan, how to obtain a copy of the employer’s plan at no cost, and how to participate in the development and implementation of the employer’s plan
The definitions and requirements of SB 553
How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal
Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, the corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm
The employer’s violent incident log and how to obtain copies of related records as required
An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s plan

Recordkeeping

The table below provides the minimum periods of maintenance required for these records.

MINIMUM MAINTENANCE PERIODS FOR WVP RECORDS
One Year
WVP training records, including:
  • WVP training dates
  • Contents or a summary of the training sessions
  • Names and qualifications of persons conducting the training
  • Names and job titles of all persons attending the training sessions
Five Years
  • Hazard identification, evaluation, and correction records
  • Violent incident logs
  • Violent investigation records

 All WVP-related records 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.

Enforcement

Cal/OSHA enforces SB 553 and may issue citations and penalties for noncompliance. Under the new law, Cal/OSHA is required to propose additional standards for WVP plans and training programs by Dec. 31, 2025, and adopted no later than Dec. 31, 2026.

For more information on California’s workplace safety laws, please contact us or visit the Cal/OSHA website.