With rare exceptions, all California employers must establish and implement a workplace violence prevention program by July 1, 2024. Act now to prepare programs and policies that will fall under Cal/OSHA's newly expanded jurisdiction.
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Developing a proactive plan and employee communication are key

Components of California Senate Bill 553 (SB 553)* are likely to affect an employer's HR practices. Some elements could pose significant challenges if not thoroughly addressed before the July 1 deadline for implementing a workplace violence prevention program (WVPP):

  1. SB 553's definition of "workplace violence" includes "threat of violence," which broadens the significance and application of this proposed standard.
  2. SB 553 defines threat of violence as "any verbal or written statement, including, but not limited to, texts, electronic messages, social media messages, or other online posts, or any behavioral or physical conduct, that conveys an intent, or that is reasonably perceived to convey an intent, to cause physical harm or to place someone in fear of physical harm."
  3. The plan must include prevention of violence by former employees and includes threat of violence by any person who "does not work there, but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee."
  4. Employers must ensure the "active involvement" of their employees in "developing and implementing" the plan. Employees must also actively participate in the correction, reporting and investigation of workplace violence.
  5. Reporting workplace violence concerns must be allowed without fear of reprisal or intimidation. The employer must have an effective procedure to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence and prohibit retaliation against the reporting employee.
  6. Employers must share information with their employees on how their workplace violence concerns will be investigated, the results of the investigation and ensuing corrective actions.
  7. Employers are required to maintain a detailed "violent incident log" which should be made available to employees upon request and archived for a minimum of five years.
  8. Program must be reviewed for effectiveness at least annually, when a deficiency is observed or becomes apparent and after a workplace violence incident. This process will require the active involvement of employees during said review.
  9. Material appropriate in content and vocabulary to the educational level, literacy and language of employees must be used during training. Opportunities for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the plan should be afforded.

Citations are likely to become public record

Gallagher human resources consultants and others expect that citations issued under this proposed standard will become public record and available for discovery outside of the administrative law system where California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) normally operates. These Cal/OSHA investigations can be triggered by incidents or complaints, some of which can be anonymous. Such a process allows employees to rapidly bypass traditional HR reporting channels.

As the July 1, 2024, deadline approaches, organizations must conduct a comprehensive review of Senate Bill 553 and its associated requirements.

Gallagher can help

Gallagher can help your HR function respond to this new legislation with a range of consulting services. Examples include employee surveys and focus groups, policy and procedure compliance audits, and safety culture assessments.


Learn more and discuss your questions and organization's needs.

Author Information


Consulting and insurance brokerage services to be provided by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. and/or its affiliate Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. is a licensed insurance agency that does business in California as "Gallagher Benefit Services of California Insurance Services" and in Massachusetts as "Gallagher Benefit Insurance Services." Neither Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., nor its affiliates provide accounting, legal or tax advice.