Governor Newsom signed SB 553 on September 30, 2023. SB 553 (Cortese) is designed to address the rising problem of workplace violence incidents.
In a blog entry earlier this year I noted that California is experiencing an epidemic of workplace violence:
We see egregious examples every day on the local news. Last week in El Sobrante California a shoplifter set a convenience store clerk on fire with stolen lifter fluid as the clerk confronted the shoplifter.
So what does SB 553 do?
Although employers are already required by law to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (an IIPP), SB 553 requires a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (a WVPP) as well (except for certain exempted employers). SB 553 outlines required elements of the WVPP, including “effective procedures” to respond to workplace violence emergencies and workplace hazards. Employers are required to record information in a violent incident log for every workplace violence incident. Workplace violence is broadly defined in the bill and includes threats that have a high likelihood of stress of psychological trauma regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.
The WVPP requires the employer to provide effective training to employees with materials appropriate in content for the educational level, literacy and language of employees.
The WVPP also must provide for record keeping of training and incidents for up to five years.
SB 553 requires Cal/OSHA to enforce the provisions.
Cal/OSHA is required to propose WVPP standards by December 31, 2025 and adopt WVPP standards by December 31,2026.
The bill includes a provision that beginning January 1, 2025 a collective bargaining representative can seek a TRO where an employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of workplace violence.
The requirements for a WVPP, violent incident log, training and record keeping will be operative as of July 1, 2024.
This bill is a good step forward for workers.
While some employers may have hiccups implementing the training and record keeping , over time this should provide meaningful data on the extent of workplace violence problems. And it will force many employers to address the problem rather than sweeping it under the rug. Some retail employers are struggling to figure out a way to combat theft/shrink and attendant workplace violence.
There are many factors causing the increase in workplace violence, and SB 553 will not solve the general societal ills which are fueling this rise.
But it’s a much needed step.
In coming days I’ll be blogging on other bills that are on Governor Newsom’s desk.
Here is a link to SB 553 on the legislature’s website: