If you’re an employer in California, there are big changes in store for you this summer. Starting July 1, 2024, California Senate Bill 553 is going into effect. While it was originally signed into law in September 2023, the provisions don’t begin until July. 

With so little time left to prepare, it’s important for businesses to start making their workplace violence prevention plans now. The training, active involvement, and written plan requirements will immediately go into effect, so employers need to get ready right away. 

What Is California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan? 

Under the new workplace violence prevention law, employers must meet five main requirements. 

  • Make a written violence prevention plan. 
  • Train workers on the plan.
  • Get employees’ active involvement and feedback on the plan. 
  • Use a log for violent incidents. 
  • Follow record-keeping rules. 

Each of these components has additional requirements. For example, you must train workers on a yearly basis. While this law is fairly in-depth, Cal/OSHA does an excellent job detailing the specific requirements. You can also read California Labor Code Section 6401.9 to better understand the rules.

Why Do You Need Employee Feedback on Violence Prevention? 

The biggest reason to get employee feedback is because it’s a legal requirement in California. If you don’t ask employees for their opinions, you could get fined if your workplace is audited after a violent incident occurs. Fines from other issues will quadruple if you’re not in compliance.   

Fines from Cal/OSHA and OSHA can be significant. Recently, OSHA fined a manufacturer $298,000 for improper safety protections. Meanwhile, Cal/OSHA just increased its maximum penalty, so fines can add up quickly if you’re not in compliance.  

More importantly, getting active involvement and feedback is a good idea. Many violence prevention techniques are common-sense ways to keep your workers safe. Because your employees work in this environment every day, they have a better understanding of job-related hazards and ways to prevent violence. 

Ultimately, a safe workplace allows you to be a better employer. Plus, a solid prevention plan will help you avoid negligence charges and hefty fines if something happens. 

Cal/OSHA’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan: How to Get Employee Comments, Feedback, and Active Involvement

In Cal/OSHA’s Model Written Violence Prevention Plan, the agency gives examples of ways you can get employees to be actively involved in violence prevention. According to Cal/OSHA, employees must be a part of the following activities. 

  • The identification, evaluation, and determination of potential hazards. 
  • Training design and implementation. 
  • Investigations and reports of workplace violence. 

Ask for Comments During In-Person Training Sessions Each Year

You are required to host in-person training sessions every year. During and at the end of each session, ask your workers for feedback. Additionally, get your workers to give you feedback about the training session itself. Ask them for ideas about training scenarios, potential hazards, and other advice.   

Include Time for Feedback in Live Virtual Training Sessions 

It is still possible to get feedback and ideas in a live virtual session. You can also get creative about how your workers brainstorm ideas. For example, you can break everyone into small groups and ask them to brainstorm different hazards or safety procedures. 

Host Safety Meetings 

Other than getting suggestions about training, you’re also supposed to get workers to give you ongoing feedback about safety hazards. An easy way to incorporate this requirement into your workplace is through safety meetings. With your team, you can identify concerns, evaluate the hazard, and discuss ways to correct them.    

Explain Reporting and Investigation Procedures 

Most likely, your employees will only be directly involved in reporting and investigating incidents if they are involved in an incident. However, it’s important to discuss the proper reporting procedures ahead of time. 

For example, you may have a policy that incidents must be reported to a safety manager. Because the direct boss could be involved in the incident, many workplaces allow workers to report violence to any manager instead of requiring employees to report to their immediate boss. 

No matter who you designate to accept reports, they should be trained in non-retaliation. Workers and managers should be taught that no employee should be retaliated against for reporting an incident.

The best time to prepare for a violent incident is before it happens. Because of this, employers should take time during training sessions to explain company procedures and how to prevent violence from happening.

What You Can Do With the Feedback on Your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan 

Once you’ve received feedback about your training program, written plan, or hazards, there are a few steps you should take before incorporating those ideas into your workplace violence prevention strategy. 

1. Investigate the Idea 

First, you must investigate the idea. If a worker brings up a potential hazard, you should investigate the hazard to see how severe it is. Once you have an understanding of the hazard and potential safety procedures to mitigate it, you can move on to the next step.    

2. Make a Determination 

Depending on your organization, you may make a determination on your own or through a safety committee. There should be specific procedures in your workplace violence prevention plan that tell you how to make a determination about employee feedback. Ultimately, you need to decide if the feedback about the hazard, procedure, or training mechanism is worth changing your existing plan and training measures. 

3. Inform the Employee About the Determination 

To improve transparency, you should return to the employee who originally suggested the idea. Let them know what your workplace will be doing with their suggestion. 

4. Maintain Records of the Feedback Investigation and Determination 

This law has a strong record-keeping component. If you investigate a workplace hazard and make a determination, you must document your investigation. Afterward, you must maintain that documentation for five years. 

Avoid Cal/OSHA Penalties by Getting Your Plan Ready 

You can get active involvement and feedback on Cal/OSHA’s plan in various ways. Once you have received suggestions, it is your duty to investigate the idea and make a determination. Additionally, you are also expected to fulfill the four other major requirements in California’s law on workplace violence prevention. 

To find out more about navigation HR compliance requirements in California like workplace violence prevention, connect with one of our small business payroll and HR experts today. 

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