Workplace Violence Prevention: What You Need To Know About CA Senate Bill No. 553

Feb 13, 2024 11:30 AM ET
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Have you seen a movie or television show where an employee acts out and strikes their co-worker, or a reckless manager injures that one employee they don’t like? After you watched that scene, have you thought, “Surely that wouldn’t happen at my job?” Unfortunately, this is a real thing that does happen, and workplace violence examples seem to pop up in headlines more and more these days. To combat these incidents in California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 553 (CA Labor Code § 6401.9), requiring every employer in the state to create and implement a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024.

Which Businesses or Companies Does this Apply To?

This applies to all California employers, with a few exceptions. Worksites with less than 10 employees are exempt. If the worksite has less than 10 employees present “at any given time” and is not “accessible to the public,” and the employer complies with the injury and illness prevention Cal/OSHA regulation, then the worksite may be exempt from the new law. It only applies to California companies and California employees. If you have employees outside of California, they would not be included. Healthcare facilities are exempt because they should be adhering to Cal/OSHA’s Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care requirements.

Types of Workplace Violence

Violence can take many different forms and involve people with varied associations to your business. The bill aims to point out four distinct types of workplace violence examples and how they differentiate. These are important as it relates to evaluating the risk of an incident like this at your business.

  1. “Type 1 violence,” which is committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.
  2. “Type 2 violence,” which is directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.
  3. “Type 3 violence,” which is committed against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  4. “Type 4 violence,” which is committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Animal attacks also fall under workplace violence and should be recorded in the incident logs.

The regulation defines “workplace violence” as:

  • The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a likelihood of resulting in injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.
  • An incident involving a threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.

California Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Requirements

So, what is required under this new regulation? Businesses and employers need to develop a written workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) and demonstrate that it is implemented. The plan can be a standalone document OR be included as part of your Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).

Written Plan

The plan should include:

  • Name or job title of the person responsible for implementing the plan.
  • Active involvement of employees in the development of the plan.
  • Methods you will use to coordinate implementation of the plan with nearby employers, where applicable.
  • Procedures for employees to report incidents and for the employer to respond to such reports.
  • Procedures for training all employees and supervisors.
  • Procedures for responding to actual workplace violence emergencies.
  • Procedures to identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards, including periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and to correct the identified hazards.
  • Procedures for post incident response, investigation, and reporting.

Workplace Violence Prevention Training

Keep in mind, simply having a plan is not enough. Training is key. Employees are to receive training on the plan upon its implementation, and then annually afterwards. Workplace violence prevention training should include:

  • The WVPP’s definitions and requirements.
  • How to obtain a copy of the plan at no cost to the employee.
  • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns without fear of reprisal.
  • The workplace violence hazards specific to the employees' jobs and the corrective measures the employer has implemented.
  • How to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm.
  • The violent incident log and how to obtain copies of the records.

Finally, employees are to receive initial workplace violence prevention training and continued training annually if they are working in the state of California. If there are any changes to the WVPP, such as new material or a new threat has been identified, then additional training should be provided to go over these changes.

Workplace Incident Logs

When filling out the logs for incidents of workplace violence, the who, what, when, where, and how are always important for accurate recordkeeping. This includes who the perpetrator(s) are, the type of violent incident that occurred, and what specific actions were done to prevent further harm to others.


Training records are to be kept for one year. Workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation and correction, violence incident logs, and incident investigations are to be kept for five years.

6 Steps to Start Creating a California Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP)

Now that you know the basic requirements of the California Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, here are some first steps for getting started.

  1. Identify who is responsible for implementing the plan. Who in your organization is responsible for the WVPP?
  2. Identify employees that would be interested in providing input into the plan. You can create an employee WVPP task force.
  3. Outline how employees can report incidents or threats of workplace violence.
  4. Detail how the company will identify and correct workplace hazards.
  5. Create procedures for responding to emergencies.
  6. Identify how to develop and provide training. If your business has more than one site in the state of California, companies can use the same basic plan, BUT be sure to tailor the specifics for those individual sites.


Record it, record it, record it. To show evidence of implementing your plan, be sure to keep adequate records. This includes maintaining records of the following:

  • Identification, evaluation, and correction of workplace violence hazards.
  • Violent incident logs.
  • Workplace investigation records.
  • Training records.

Additional Information

When an injury does occur, you only have to report to Cal/OSHA for “serious” injuries, as well as filling out the OSHA 300 log, just as you would with any other injury that occurs.

Make EHS Well-being a Priority 

Remember, a safer workplace is not just about preventing workplace violence – it's also about nurturing the mental well-being of those who work tirelessly to keep everyone safe. Encourage your organization to adopt practices that support both the physical and emotional aspects of workplace safety, ensuring a more resilient and sustainable work culture for everyone involved.

Learn how Antea Group can help lighten the load for your EHS team with our Health & Safety (EHS) Consulting.