California Employers: Get Ready NOW for SB 553 – Workplace Violence Planning and Training

Recently, PBO Advisory and our partners at IOA Insurance hosted a webinar on new regulations affecting virtually all California employers. CA Senate Bill 553, which requires most employers to develop and implement a written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury and Illness Protection Plan, was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2023 and becomes effective July 1, 2024.

Eligible employers should start now by preparing a plan and training employees.

view webinar

Who Needs to Comply?

Companies and nonprofits with employees in California must comply. Exceptions include organizations within the healthcare, prison, and law enforcement industries, which are already mandated to have workplace violence prevention programs in place. Also exempt are worksites with less than 10 employees present “at any given time” and are not “accessible to the public,” and organizations with a workforce that works entirely from home or other remote locations.

While the regulation only applies to California employers and their California employees, many organizations are opting to comply with the new law at all workplace locations across the U.S. as it is anticipated that other states will soon adopt similar regulations.

Noncompliance can result in a citation and notice of a civil penalty. Which state agency will actually enforce the new regulation is unclear at this time, as are many other aspects of the new law. Representatives from IOA are currently seeking more guidance from the Governor’s office and we will keep you updated.

What do Employers Need to do?

According to PBO Advisory’s Senior HR Manager Laura Nieman, with the July 1 compliance date looming, employers need to start immediately preparing a plan and training their employees.

The WVPP can be incorporated into your Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) or be a standalone program. We have found that many California employers are not aware that they are required to have an IIPP (since 2018), so if you fall into this category, now is the time to tackle both.

The regulation calls for four actions by employers: Planning, Reporting, Training and Re-Training.

Planning

Cal/OSHA has published a template plan to assist employers. This is a good place to start but each plan must be customized to the specific workplace threats a business faces, at each jobsite. Four types of violence must be addressed, as they apply:

  1. Workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.
  2. Workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, visitors, and others.
  3. Workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  4. Workplace violence committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Plans must be in writing, detailed, and include the name(s) of the employee(s) who will oversee various aspects of the plan.

Reporting

Under previous regulations, all threats of workplace violence must be recorded in a log and all acts of violence must be reported to Cal/OSHA. This does not change under SB 553. The person(s) responsible for the recording and reporting must be specifically named in the WVPP.

Training

Training of your entire workforce is required. Videos, PowerPoint presentations, etc. can be a component of the training, but the law also requires interactive components. All employees must be initially trained by July 1, 2024. Every employee needs a copy of the plan and to sign-off when they have been trained.

Laura suggests also incorporating the training into your onboarding to ensure all new employees are properly trained.

Retraining

Retraining annually is mandatory, even if there are no changes to the plan. In the event of a violent incident or as new hazards arise, all employees must be retrained.

Insurance

According to our friends at IOA, crisis risk insurance coverage typically includes workplace violence coverage. Business income losses – including missed salaries – resulting from an incident as well as public relations expenses to deal with the aftermath are also typically included. A threat of violence can trigger a policy, as can an actual incident.

This coverage is relatively affordable. But this should be your last line of defense. You must have a WVPP in place.

Next Steps

PBO Advisory and IOA are here to help. Because your WWVP must be individualized to each workplace location, you and your team must be actively involved in the planning and training. PBO Advisory is working on a project management task program to help our clients and will let you know when it is available. Both PBO Advisory and IOA are available to help you jumpstart and/or review your plan, including helping you to think through the various scenarios of violence that may occur.

IOA will also work with you to ensure you have the insurance needed to protect your organization in the event of a threat or incident.

We’ve posted the entire webinar here and we encourage you to watch as it provides more specific details regarding the law and your compliance.

Please contact Laura Nieman if you have questions or need assistance.


Laura Nieman, PHR

Sr. HR Manager
laura@pboadvisory.com
858-935-4844