Through California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, employers are expected to train employees and create a prevention plan for their workplace. Because there are specific record-keeping requirements and incident logs that you must use, it’s important to prepare your business for this new rule as soon as possible. As long as you have 10 or more employees, this law applies. 

What Is the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in California? 

The Workplace Violence Prevention Plan begins July 1, 2024. After that date, all workplaces will need to have a written plan in place and provide training on it. If you don’t meet the law’s standards, you could end up getting your fines quadrupled if an employee complains or your workplace experiences a violent incident. 

Each year, around two million people are victims of non-fatal incidents of workplace violence. Around 1,000 people end up dying. Ultimately, the goal of the plan is to prevent different types of workplace violence, so workers can have safer, healthier environments to work in. 

The 5 Requirements Listed in the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

While there are many smaller requirements involved, California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan boils down to five key requirements. As an employer, you are expected to create a written plan, get staff comments, train workers, create a violent incident log, and fulfill record-keeping requirements. 

Cal/OSHA has done an excellent job of detailing the requirements of the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in understandable, straightforward language. Additionally, Cal/OSHA’s website has a model prevention plan that includes a fill-in-the-blank plan and an example of the log you will need.

1. Create a Written Plan 

The first step in fulfilling your legal obligation is to create a written plan. Cal/OSHA already has an excellent example plan you can use. The red font in Cal/OSHA’s model plan is where you can customize the plan with workplace-specific information.

This written plan must be updated with employee feedback and anything you learn from incidents that occur. It also must be available to employees at all times. While you could use an online copy in a digital folder for your remote workers, you may need to give in-person workers a copy on the bulletin board or a laminated version on a ring that they can flip through. 

Within the written plan, you must include a variety of topics. For example, you need to include the names of the people responsible for implementing your plan, procedures for responding to violence, and ways to report incidents. 

2. Get Staff Comments and Feedback 

On-the-ground workers often have a better understanding of job-related hazards. Because of this, it is important to get their input. In addition, you are required to get worker feedback under California Labor Code 6401.9. 

The easiest way to fulfill this requirement is to save time for feedback at the end of your training sessions. You can ask for the same feedback at the end of live virtual training programs. Because of the feedback requirement, it’s still an open question whether standard e-training programs will be allowed. Because of the timeline for the law’s implementation, you’ll initially have an easier time using live virtual and in-person sessions.  

After you receive feedback, the next step is determining if you will use it. You must investigate the feedback, decide what you want to do, and inform the employee what you have decided. Then, you must make any necessary changes to the prevention plan and procedures.

3. Train Workers on Preventing Workplace Violence 

By law, California employers must train their workers each year on violence prevention. Even if the employee has been trained in the past, they are still required to undergo training again each year. 

As a part of the law, you are required to document the training sessions you perform. You only have to store the documents for a year. Once your new training session is complete, you no longer need the old training records.

There are many things you are expected to cover during the training session. For instance, you must teach employees where they should go to report violent incidents and different legal definitions. You must also make sure that all employees and managers are aware that retaliatory actions are prohibited. 

4. Create a Violent Incident Log

Employers are required to track violent incidents that occur. A sample incident log can be found toward the end of Cal/OSHA’s Model Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. When an incident occurs, you must write down the circumstances involved, the location, the violence type, a description of the event, the date, and any law enforcement involvement.

Under the new law, names and personally identifiable information must be redacted from your incident log. You may need to use names for other legal forms, but the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan does not allow the inclusion of identifiable information. 

5. Fulfill Record-Keeping Requirements 

If you fulfill every part of the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, you will have many different records to store. While your training documentation only has to be maintained for a year, violent incident logs must be kept for five years. If you investigate a violent incident, you also must keep your investigation records for five years. 

Sometimes, an employee or manager will bring up a safety hazard. When this happens, you must investigate the hazard, evaluate if it is an issue, and make changes. The investigation, evaluation, and correction process must be documented. Any resulting documentation must be stored for five years.

FAQs About the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan 

Because the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan is so new, many employers have questions about how it will go into effect and what to expect. 

When Does the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Start? 

The first day the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan takes effect is July 1, 2024. Starting on that date, employers are expected to fulfill all the law’s provisions. 

Are There Penalties for Non-Compliance? 

In a recent podcast on “California OSHA: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan” with Mission to Grow, Mary Simmons, VP of HR compliance at Asure, discussed the auditing process and penalties connected to non-compliance. “Cal/OSHA has come up very publicly and said that we do not have the auditors to go door-to-door to audit this. It doesn’t mean we won’t. [ . . . ] If you have a claim and you haven’t done that training, your fines quadruple themselves.”

Your main auditing risk is if an employee comes forward about a problem with your plan. You may also get audited if there’s a violent incident at your workplace. If these circumstances happen, your penalties will be quadrupled if you haven’t followed every part of the law.

Can You Include Your Workplace Violence Prevention Training During Anti-Harassment Training? 

There’s no reason why you can’t do anti-harassment training right before or after violence prevention training. However, these are two entirely different topics, and anti-harassment training doesn’t have to occur as frequently as workplace violence prevention training. Additionally, it may be challenging to pull workers for long periods of training.

Are There Exemptions for the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan? 

There are some exemptions detailed in the law, but they aren’t going to apply to most workplaces. The main exemption is for companies that have less than 10 workers. Additionally, you might be considered exempt if your workplace is 100% remote. Healthcare facilities, correction centers, and law enforcement centers are exempt, but this is mainly because they already have their own rules about violence in the workplace. 

How Often Do You Need to Train Your Employees on Workplace Violence Prevention? 

You are required to train employees on workplace violence prevention every year. If your plan is modified to accommodate hazards or changes to your workplace, employees must be trained on these updates at their subsequent training sessions. 

How Long Should You Maintain Your Records? 

Records of your training sessions only have to be kept for a year. All of the records from your logs, incident investigations, and hazard identification activities must be kept for five years. 

Get Your Workplace Ready for California’s New HR Laws

What Is the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan? More importantly, how can your company follow this new law? 

Under the new law, employers have certain requirements. To learn more about your navigating HR Compliance laws like the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, connect with our small business payroll and HR experts today. 

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