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  • Jessica James

Goodbye July: California's WVPP Requirements Are In Effect, Are You Prepared?

Effective July 1, 2024, nearly all employers in California must develop, adopt, and put into action a written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). These plans encompass various components, including annual training on preventing workplace violence, maintaining records of violent incidents, and preserving various documents. Senate Bill 553 (SB 553), now codified in California Labor Code 6401.9, compels CAL/OSHA to enforce new workplace violence requirements and employers may be subject to audits and penalties.


Covered Employers


The law covers all California employers except health care facilities, service categories, and operations (as covered under Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 8, § 3342); facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and law enforcement agencies that are a “department or participating department” (that are in compliance § 3203); employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice which is not under the control of the employer, and places of employment with less than 10 employees working at any given time and that are not accessible to the public (that are in compliance § 3203).


What is Workplace Violence?


Labor Code Section 6401.9 defines workplace violence as “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment,” but does not include lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others. Workplace violence specifically includes, but is not limited to, the following:


  • 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.

  • An incident involving a 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, and

  • Any of the following four types of workplace violence: Type 1 violence: 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 employees with the intent to commit a crime. Type 2 violence: workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors. Type 3 violence: workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager. Type 4 violence: 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.


Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan


Section 6401.9 mandates that covered employers establish a comprehensive written WVPP to address several detailed topics, including procedures on the following:


  • Accountability: Clearly define the individuals responsible for implementing and maintaining the WVPP.

  • Employee Engagement: Solicit active employee participation in developing, implementing, and reviewing the plan.

  • Coordination: Methods for coordinating the execution of the plan among employees in the same department or facility, and with other employers (when applicable).

  • Compliance: Ensure employee and supervisor adherence to the WVPP.

  • Incident Reporting: How will the employer handle and respond to reports of workplace violence, while ensuring no retaliation against the reporting employee.

  • Communication: Clear communication channels to keep everyone informed about workplace violence matters.

  • Hazard Evaluations: Risk assessment procedures to identify and evaluate potential workplace violence factors. The plan should be specific to the hazards and corrective measures for each work area and/or operation, and it should include procedures to initially identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards when the plan is first set up, as well as periodically scheduled updates and reevaluation after a violent incident or whenever a new hazard becomes known.

  • Corrective Action: Timely correct workplace violence hazards identified and evaluated.

  • Emergency Response: Procedures for alerting employees, evacuation and shelter sheltering plans, and promptly seeking assistance from law enforcement during all work shifts.

  • Post-Incident: Procedures for addressing, response, and investigation following workplace violence incidents.

  • Review: The plan should allow for annual and ongoing review when a deficiency is observed or becomes apparent or after a workplace violence incident.

  • Training: Comprehensive training programs for all employees based on the WVPP.

  • Any other procedure necessary for employee health and safety as required by the Division and Standards Board.

Violent Incident Log Requirements


California also requires employers to maintain a log of all incidents of workplace violence and include specific information based on information solicited from employees who experienced the workplace violence, witness statements, and investigation findings. Labor Code section 6401.9(d)(1) outlines the specific requirements to be included in a log, and importantly notes that employer should not include any personally identifiable information for those involved in a violent incident.

Record Keeping


Employers should maintain records of violent incident logs, investigations, and hazard identification, evaluation, and corrective actions for five years.  Training records should be created and maintained for at least one year.  

Training


Employers must provide annual training in a format that is easy to understand (this may vary by workforce). When new or previously unidentified workplace violence hazards are discovered, or changes are made to the plan, the employer must provide additional training that focuses on the specific hazard or plan modifications. The training is required to cover various aspects of the written plan, including the following:


  • Familiarizing employees with the plan, how to obtain a copy, and how to participate in the development and implementation of the employer’s plan.

  • Definitions and requirements of Labor Code section 6401.9.

  • How to report workplace violence incidents without fear of retaliation.

  • Understanding of job-specific violence hazards and preventive measures.

  • Purpose of the violent incident log and how to obtain related records.

  • Opportunities for interactive discussions with someone knowledgeable about the employer’s plan.


This development continues to underscore the importance of workplace safety. Employers may consult with legal counsel for any questions or concerns about these requirements or in developing a compliant WVPP and training materials.

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