EVERFI Content Team

Workplace violence can take many forms. While media headlines often focus on high-profile workplace shootings, the data shows that these incidents are quite rare relative to other, more common forms of violence. Workplace violence can involve a range of behaviors including threats, verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, intimidation, domestic violence that comes to work, stalking (in-person or cyber), pushing, fighting, and other forms of physical assault.

Unfortunately, workplace violence occurs frequently. In fact:

What’s worse, these numbers likely underrepresent the reality, as it is estimated that about a quarter of workplace violence incidents go unreported.

These statistics highlight the pervasive nature of workplace violence and underscore the urgent need for preventative measures. In response to the rising instances and growing dangers of workplace violence, California Senate Bill No. 553 was signed into law on September 30, 2023. The new law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024, imposes many workplace violence prevention requirements on virtually every employer in the state of California.

What does California’s new workplace violence law require employers to do?

The new law generally requires employers to do four main things:

  1. Establish and implement a written, comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan (a “Plan”). The Plan can be a separate document or an additional section to an existing injury and illness prevention plan and is subject to many requirements around how employers must create them, who must be involved, and what they must contain.

While this is not an exhaustive list, the Plan must generally include a host of employer-specific procedures relating to the following:

  • identifying and evaluating workplace violence hazards, such as through periodic inspections;
  • communicating with employees about workplace violence matters, such as how employees can report concerns, threats, or incidents, without fear of retaliation and how reports will be investigated;
  • receiving, responding to, and investigating reports of violence;
  • responding to emergencies, such as alert systems, evacuation or sheltering plans, and how to get help from appropriate staff and law enforcement;
  • post-incident corrective measures;
  • and much more.

The Plan may be posted on an intranet or other electronic platform or provided in paper copy but must be available to employees. Employers must periodically review and update their Plan to ensure continued effectiveness.

  1. Maintain a Violent Incident Log (a “Log”). Employers must record specific information about every workplace violence incident in a Violent Incident Log, which includes details about each incident and post-incident responses or actions. Employers must allow employees to view and copy the Log upon request.
  2. Provide effective training to employees on their Plan and Log and other violence prevention topics.
  3. Maintain records related to their Plan.

Which employers and employees are covered by the law?

All California employers and employees are covered by this law’s requirements, with four narrow exceptions:

  • Exception 1: Health care-related facilities, service categories, and operations that are covered by a different, healthcare-specific workplace violence law such as the Cal/OSHA Violence Prevention in Health Care Standard.
  • Exception 2: Employees who telework from “a location of fdtheir choosing that is outside the control of their employer.” This could be their home or a coffee shop for example.
  • Exception 3: Employer worksites that are not open to the public AND that have fewer than 10 employees present at any given time.
  • Exception 4: Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and law enforcement agencies.

Which employees must be trained? Must company employees in other states be trained?

According to a Q&A by the national law firm of Ogletree Deakins, the law’s training requirement “only applies to California employers and their California employees.” Yet, it is a best practice to train all employees regardless of location, as information provided in the training about prevention, reporting of concerns, and responding safely to violent situations, would be critical to know for employees anywhere that may experience threats of violence at work.

How often must employees be trained?

Annual base training: Employers must train employees first when their workplace violence prevention plan is established, and then continue to deliver that full training annually thereafter.

As-needed training: Additional training is also required when “new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazards are identified and when there are changes to the Plan.” That additional training, however, can simply focus on the new workplace hazard or what changes were made to the plan without needing to repeat the full training.

What must the training cover under the law?

Under the law, training must cover the following topics.

  • Employer Plan-specific, Log-specific, and worksite-specific topics:
    • The employer’s Plan, how employees can obtain a free copy of it, and how employees can participate in the Plan’s development and implementation.
    • The employer’s Violent Incident Log and how to view employer records related to workplace violence requirements.
    • Workplace violence hazards specific to the worksite.
    • Corrective measures the employer has implemented.
    • How to report workplace violence hazards and workplace violence incidents to their employer or law enforcement without fear of retaliation.
    • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person who is knowledgeable about the employer’s Plan.
  • General workplace violence prevention and safety topics:
    • How to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence.
    • Strategies to avoid physical harm.
    • Specific definitions around types of violence, the definition of workplace violence, and requirements contained in the California workplace violence law.

Disclaimer: this information is not intended as legal advice. Please consult with legal counsel to ensure your organization’s compliance with applicable legal requirements.

EVERFI Workplace Violence Prevention Training

With new updates, employers can use EVERFI Preventing Workplace Violence courses to train employees and help them meet the training requirements of California’s new workplace violence law (SB 553). Customization points allow you to include key information and documents, such as your company’s specific workplace violence plan, violent incident log, methods of reporting, and other worksite-specific topics.