New requirement strives to prevent violence in the workplace.

Author: Slater Jackson


California State Bill (SB) 553* was signed into law on September 30, 2023, creating the first general-industry safety requirement for workplace violence prevention in the US. The law requires employers to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024; the law applies to most California employers, with limited exceptions.

SB 553 also covered changes regarding restraining orders, but this bulletin only covers updates outlined under Labor Code 6401.7 and 6401.9 for requirements for workplace violence prevention for California employers.

Key takeaways of California SB 553


  • Employers already covered by the Cal/OSHA Violence Prevention in Healthcare standard.
  • Employees who telework from a location of their choosing outside of the control of the employer.
  • Locations closed to the public where fewer than 10 employees work at a time. This exception will likely be difficult to apply, given that many workplaces accept deliveries or have other limited interactions with the public/vendors.
  • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and law enforcement agencies.
  • SB 553 will apply to most employers. Exceptions exist but have limited application (see box).
  • The plan can be incorporated into the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or be a stand-alone plan.
  • Employee participation is needed in the plan's development and implementation.
  • Plans need to be customized to jobs and workplace hazards as well as controls.
  • Multi-employer worksites and employers who work with staffing agencies must coordinate the implementation and training of the plan and clearly outline responsibilities.
  • An interactive Q&A component is required for training.
  • Employers with higher levels of public engagement, in high crime areas and/or with a history of workplace violence should consider proactively reaching out to third-party training firms and local law enforcement to explore training, tabletop, and live exercises.
  • Recordkeeping requirements include a highly detailed violent incident log; inspection records; incident investigation records; and training records.
    • The violent incident log is considered private information.
    • The violent incident log, inspection records and incident investigation records must be retained for five years.
    • Training records must be retained for one year.
  • Monitor Cal/OSHA's Advisory Committee for progress with a workplace violence prevention standard and potentially new requirements.

Important dates

With this new legislation, Cal/OSHA can cite employers under the IIPP standard and the labor code until they adopt a general industry workplace violence prevention standard.

July 1, 2024. Employer will need to establish, implement and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan per SB-553.

December 1, 2025. Cal/OSHA must propose a general industry workplace violence prevention standard.

December 31, 2026. The standards board must adopt a general industry workplace violence standard.

Written program elements

SB 553 requires an amended IIPP or standalone written Workplace Violence Prevention Program to include the following:

  1. Responsibility
  2. Compliance
  3. Communication
  4. Hazard assessment
  5. Incident investigation
  6. Hazard correction
  7. Training and instruction
  8. Recordkeeping
  9. Employee (and authorized employee representative) involvement
  10. Employee access to the written plan and specific records
  11. Methods to coordinate the implementation of the plan with other employers
  12. Highly customized to jobs and workplaces
  13. Workplace violence prevention log
  14. Requirement to continually review and revise the program for effectiveness when deficiencies are apparent, after a workplace violence incident, and annually

Employee training requirements

Training must take place when the plan is established, when new or unrecognized hazards are identified, or when changes are made to the plan and annually thereafter. The training includes:

  • Definitions and requirements of Labor Code 6401.7 and Labor Code 6401.9
  • Key definitions, including but are not limited to, workplace violence, the four categories of workplace violence, threat of violence, engineering controls and work practice controls
  • How employees can obtain a free copy of the written plan
  • Corrective measures the employer has implemented
  • How to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence
  • Strategies to avoid physical harm
  • Information about the violent incident log and how employees can obtain a copy
  • How employees and their authorized representatives will participate in the development and implementation of the plan
  • How to report a violent incident, threat or other workplace violence concern to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal
  • How employees will be informed of the results of investigations and any corrective actions
  • Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan and revise as needed
  • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer's plan

Requirements for the violent incident log

Employers are required to record every workplace violence incident in a violent incident log, including the following details:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Which of the four workplace violence types were involved in the incident
  • Detailed description of the incident
  • Classification of who committed the violence (client or customer, family or friend of client or customer, stranger with criminal intent, coworker, supervisor, partner or spouse, parent or relative, or other perpetrator)
  • Circumstances at the time of the incident (normal job duties, poorly lit area, rushed, low-staffing levels, working in a new or unfamiliar setting, etc.)
  • The violence type (physical attack or threat, involvement of weapons or other objects, sexual assault, animal attack, etc.)
  • Consequences/corrective actions resulting from the incident (were security or law enforcement contacted, what actions were taken to protect employees from a continuing threat, etc.)
  • Who completed the log (name, job title and date completed)

Employers must retain the log for five years and employees are entitled to view and copy the log within 15 calendar days of a request. Employers must omit any personal identifying information that could allow identification of any person involved in a violent incident.

Next steps

We anticipate that these new requirements will impact most employers. There's no single best practice for preventing workplace violence, and we anticipate that the requirements will evolve and change once Cal/OSHA has adopted a standard for general-industry workplace violence prevention.

Gallagher's National Risk Control team can guide you in developing the right workplace violence prevention plan to help your organization face the future with confidence. For more information please reach out to your broker or assigned risk control consultant.

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