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  • Writer's pictureCody J. Bellmeyer (State Bar No. 326530)

Workplace Violence & Prevention

On September 30, 2023, California Senate Bill 553 (Cortese) was signed into law, making California Labor Code section 6401.9 enforceable starting July 1, 2024. Employers subject to this law are required to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. This plan must include, but is not limited to, the following elements:


·         Designating individuals responsible for implementing the plan

·         Engaging employees and their representatives in the process

·         Receiving and addressing reports of workplace violence while ensuring employees are protected from retaliation

·         Keeping employees informed about workplace violence issues

·         Preparing for and responding to actual and potential emergencies

·         Creating and delivering effective training programs

·         Identifying, assessing, and mitigating workplace violence risks

·         Conducting post-incident responses and investigations


Preventing Workplace Violence in General Industry (Non-Healthcare Settings)

Workplace violence poses a significant risk to employees, including supervisors and managers, potentially causing serious physical and emotional harm. Such incidents can have grave outcomes, with some leading to fatalities and others resulting in nonfatal injuries that require medical treatment, time away from work, loss of wages, and decreased productivity.


Essential Information for Employers

All California employers are required to identify and address workplace hazards promptly and provide effective training to their employees to prevent job-related injuries. Additionally, every employer must immediately report any serious injury, illness, or death of an employee occurring at the workplace or in connection with their employment to Cal/OSHA, including incidents resulting from workplace violence.


Understanding Workplace Violence

According to Labor Code section 6401.9, "workplace violence" is defined as any act or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

·         Threats or physical force directed at an employee that result in, or are highly likely to result in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether an injury occurs.

·         Incidents involving threats or use of firearms or other dangerous weapons, including using common objects as weapons, regardless of whether an injury occurs.

·         The four categories of workplace violence as defined in Labor Code section 6401.9.


 

Categories of Workplace Violence


Workplace assaults in California can be categorized into four major types of violence. However, a workplace may experience more than one type at a time.


Type 1 Violence

"Type 1 Violence" involves workplace violence committed by individuals who have no legitimate business at the worksite. This includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.


Examples include:

·         Robberies in retail settings

·         Businesses where employees or owners have direct contact with the public and handle cash transactions

·         Robberies targeting delivery drivers, taxicab drivers, and ride-hailing drivers

·         Incidents involving janitors and maintenance workers

·         Threats and violence directed at security guards


Type 2 Violence

"Type 2 violence" refers to workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.


Examples of workplaces include:

·         Social welfare service providers in settings such as unemployment offices, welfare eligibility offices, homeless shelters, probation offices, and child welfare agencies

·         Social welfare service providers during onsite duties and home visits

·         Educators, administrative staff, and support staff in schools with students who have a history of violent behavior

·         Various service providers, including justice system personnel, customer service representatives, and delivery workers


Type 3 Violence

"Type 3 violence" refers to workplace violence committed by a current or former employee, supervisor, or manager against another employee.


The primary target of a Type 3 event can be a co-worker, supervisor, manager, or domestic partner of an individual seeking revenge for perceived unfair treatment in the workplace.


Type 4 Violence

"Type 4 violence" refers to workplace violence committed by someone who does not work at the location but has or has had a personal relationship with an employee.


Overlapping Types of Workplace Violence Events

Certain occupations and workplaces may be at risk of experiencing more than one type of workplace violence.


For example, retail establishments, such as convenience stores, may be susceptible to both Type 1 and Type 3 events. A convenience store employee could be fatally injured during a robbery (Type 1) or due to a personal dispute with a non-employee (Type 4).


 

Strategies to Reduce Workplace Violence


Initial Risk Assessment and Evaluation

Any preventive measures and procedures taken by an employer to correct, respond to, or prevent workplace violence must be based on a thorough understanding of the risk factors and hazards associated with the various types of workplace violence present in the workplace.


Every employer must conduct an initial assessment to identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards that may contribute to the risk of violence. Potential factors that could increase the risk of workplace violence include, but are not limited to:

·         Handling cash transactions

·         Working alone

·         Working during night and early morning hours

·         Having valuable items on-site, such as money and jewelry

·         Guarding money, valuable property, or possessions

·         Performing public safety or social welfare functions in the community

·         Working with clients, passengers, customers, or students known or suspected to have a history of violence

·         Employees with a history of assaults or who have exhibited belligerent, intimidating, or threatening behavior toward others


Required Records for Workplace Violence

·         Maintain records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction for at least five years.

·         Keep training records related to the workplace violence prevention plan for a minimum of one year.

·         Preserve Violence Incident Logs for at least five years.

·         Retain records of workplace violence incident investigations for a minimum of five years.

·         Store Cal/OSHA Form 300 for five years.


Access to Workplace Violence Records

·         Records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, correction, training records, and violent incident logs must be accessible to employees and their authorized representatives upon request. These records should be provided free of charge for examination and copying within 15 calendar days of the request.

·         All workplace violence records, including investigations of violent incidents, must be made available to the division upon request.


 

What Can I Do To Prepare for the Effective Date?


Creating a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP)

Employers have a critical responsibility to address workplace violence hazards, ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees. Compliance with regulatory requirements mandates the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of an effective written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). At Bellmeyer Law, we are dedicated to partnering with businesses across the state to develop customized prevention plans that align with each company's unique needs.


Our experienced team at Bellmeyer Law understands that no two businesses are the same. We take a personalized approach to crafting WVPPs, ensuring that each plan is tailored to address specific risks and operational dynamics. By collaborating closely with our clients, we help create comprehensive strategies that not only meet legal obligations but also foster a safer work environment.


If your organization requires assistance in developing a robust Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, Bellmeyer Law is here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards safeguarding your workplace. We are committed to designing a plan that effectively protects your employees and suits your particular needs.



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