Enforcement season begins July 1, 2024.

Employers in California must have a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in place by July 1, 2024 (except for limited and narrow exceptions found in Labor Code section 6401.9(b)(2)).

In order to be in compliance, employers should, at a minimum, have the following items completed:

(1) A written violence prevention plan;

(2) An initial workplace violence hazard exposure analysis and evaluation; and

(3) Training for employees on what is required under the new law, including specifics on how the organization will implement the plan requirements.

Key elements of a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan include:

  • Designating who is responsible for implementing the plan;
  • How employees are encouraged to be actively involved and contribute to developing and implementing the plan;
  • Procedures to identify, evaluate, and correct potential workplace violence hazards, including scheduled periodic inspections;
  • An effective reporting mechanism that encourages employees to report workplace violence incidents and concerns, without fear of retaliation; and
  • Procedures for investigating incidents of workplace violence.

In addition to the above, the plan needs to address how employers will respond to workplace violence emergencies and threats of imminent physical violence. In fact, failure to have a procedure concerning how to respond to a violent emergency is fertile ground for Cal/OSHA to find potential “Serious” or “Willful” violations of the plan’s requirements. Therefore, employers are cautioned to take the law’s requirements seriously, especially the requirement to train employees on how to respond and mitigate any serious and potentially life-threatening acts of workplace violence.

A couple key points to keep in mind.

If you don’t have a plan in place yet, don’t panic. But don’t procrastinate any longer. All it takes is one complaint to Cal/OSHA, or a reportable (i.e., “serious”) injury to occur in the workplace, and the odds are high that Cal/OSHA will be knocking at your door. If that occurs, the workplace violence prevention plan will be one of the first, if not the first, policy that Cal/OSHA will request. Good faith and sincere effort on the part of the employer to put a plan in place will likely go a long way in the eyes of a compliance officer.

Complete initial training on the plan’s requirements by July 1st. This training should include a description of how employees can effectively report workplace violence incidents without any fear of retaliation. The training must also include basic information, such as how employees can easily access the plan and how they can request copies of workplace violence hazard assessments and violent incident logs. Notably, even the definitions listed in the statute (see Labor Code section 6401.9(a)) need to be included in the training. If the training does not cover the basic requirements, the employer risks a “gotcha” citation, as an inspector will surely have a checklist when reviewing training records.

If you need any assistance in developing or implementing your workplace violence prevention plan, including sample plans or training materials, please feel free to reach out to any member of our Workplace Safety Practice Group or your Constangy attorney for more guidance.

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