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California has enacted a new workplace violence prevention law, SB 553/California Labor Code Section 6401.9, requiring almost all California employers to develop and implement a written workplace violence prevention plan and provide annual training on the plan to employees and maintain a log of incidents of workplace violence. Employers will have until July 1 to develop and implement the plan as well as provide training to their staff.

There are three important aspects of SB 553 that employers need to consider: 1) coordinating compliance with other employers; 2) determining which employees should be involved in plan development and receive training; and 3) addressing certain required plan elements, like assessing workplace violence hazards.

SB 553 requires that the plan include procedures for: 1) identifying and evaluating workplace violence hazards; 2) responding to an actual or potential workplace violence emergency; and 3) ensuring employee compliance with the plan.

Procedures to identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards must include periodic inspections of the worksite to spot unsafe conditions or practices as well as to compile employee reports and concerns. To meet this requirement, employers should consider a method, such as a survey, to collect employee feedback on workplace violence.

Employers should also consider including procedures to identify environmental risk factors that may increase the risk of a violent incident. Some of these factors include employees working with volatile customers, working alone, exchanging money, working where alcohol is served, or working in premises with limited escape routes.

The plan also needs procedures for how best to respond to workplace violence emergencies.  These include methods to:

  • Warn employees when an incident is imminent,
  • Contacting law enforcement or security,
  • Evacuation or sheltering protocols, and
  • Establishing support resources for employees following a violent incident, such as, providing immediate care to employees who have been injured, making trauma counseling available, conducting post-incident debriefing as soon as possible and reviewing the possible causes of the incident.

Hazmat School’s Workplace Violence Training Course was created to keep California employees safe in the workplace. The new law has created urgency for employers to develop and implement a plan and provide training. Employers that start the process now will be better prepared to prevent workplace violence and avoid the costs that could possibly come with it.

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