Every year, 2 million workplace violence incidents occur. While these incidents are generally non-fatal, around 1,000 people will die from workplace violence each year. 

California is seeking to change this situation. Under a new law, workplaces are required to adopt certain measures for reducing workplace violence. Because these measures are legally binding, all workplaces must comply with California’s laws about workplace violence prevention or face legal consequences.

How Does the Workplace Violent Prevention Plan Work? 

Governor Newsom signed SB 553 into law on September 30, 2024. The provisions of the law can be found under California Labor Code section 6401.9. This law goes into effect on July 1, 2024, so there is very little time for workplaces to comply with it. 

There are five key requirements that form the bulk of the law. As a California business, you are expected to do the following activities.

  • Design workplace violence prevention plans 
  • Train employees
  • Get worker feedback and active involvement
  • Log incidents
  • Maintain certain records 

Because the state has already released a lot of information and a Model Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, you could save a lot of time by using the model plan and log provided by the state.

What Are the Legal Record-Keeping Requirements for Your Workplace Violence Prevention Activities? 

One of the major requirements of the new law is that you must keep records. Other than the type of records, the law details the length of time that you should maintain each kind of document. These rules are similar to OSHA record-keeping requirements, so most workplaces are likely familiar with guidelines like this. 

1. The Plan Must Be Accessible and in Writing

Storage Requirement: A written plan must always be available 

Each business is required to have a workplace violence prevention plan. A written version of the plan must be updated as you discover new hazards and make changes. 

This written plan must be accessible to your workers at all times. For example, you may store a copy in a digital library for your remote workers. Meanwhile, frontline team members may get a laminated copy on a ring that they can easily flip through. 

2. Training Records Are Tracked for a Year 

Storage Requirement: 1 year

You’re required to offer training sessions and get feedback as a part of your workplace violence prevention plan. Additionally, you must keep a record of how you carried out these activities. 

During a recent interview with Mission to Grow, Mary Simmons, VP of HR compliance at Asure, offered some advice about conducting training sessions. “At the end, have them acknowledge that they saw the policy, and they were given the vehicle to make comments and ask questions.”

As an employer, you need workers to acknowledge their training experiences and feedback options. If an incident, audit, or complaint occurs in the future, you will want to have proof that workers saw the policies and had an opportunity to comment on them. 

Each year, you are expected to give your workers additional training on violence prevention. Because of this, your training records only have to be maintained for a year.

3. You Must Track Hazard Identification, Evaluation, and Correction

Storage Requirement: 5 years

Employers are obligated to get feedback on potential workplace hazards. This may be from employee feedback or an incident investigation.  

No matter how the hazard identification occurs, you are expected to record the process. Employers are required to identify, evaluate, and correct hazards. If you decide a hazard exists and must be corrected, you must update your written plan and training program. 

Make sure to document this process. Then, store all that documentation for five years.

4. Incident Investigations Must Be Tracked 

Storage Requirement: 5 years

Even with the best prevention techniques, violent incidents may still occur. After an incident, you are required to investigate what happened. This investigation can help you understand the causes and contributing factors, so you can prevent future incidents. 

Your investigation will generate additional documents and recommendations. Everything connected to your investigation must be stored for five years. 

5. Workplaces Need to Maintain Their Violent Incident Logs

Storage Requirement: 5 years

If a violent incident does occur, you must complete a log that includes important information about the incident. Cal/OSHA includes an example of this type of log toward the end of their model written plan. It specifically bans the use of personally identifiable information, so make sure to redact any names. 

Once your log is created, it must be stored for five years. Under the law, any employee who wants to see these logs must be able to do so. 

How Should You Store Your Records for the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan? 

The law doesn’t say how you are required to store most of these records. Most likely, the paper or digital system you use will be sufficient. 

However, the law specifically says a written plan must be accessible to workers at all times. This means that the way you store your written plan will depend on how and where your employees are working. While remote employees and office workers may use a digital copy of the plan, frontline workers may need a printed version added to a bulletin board in the break room. 

Learn More About HR Requirements for Your Workplace 

Unless you are an entirely remote workplace or have less than 10 workers, you must create a workplace violence prevention plan. As a part of these measures, there are certain record-keeping requirements you are expected to follow as well. 

To learn more about preventing workplace violence and your record-keeping requirements, reach out to our small business HR & payroll experts today. 

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