If you run a company in California, you’re expected to complete an incident log each time a violent incident happens. Because this is a legal requirement, there are specific things that you must include in each log. Other than detailing the type of workplace violence and the kind of incident, you will also need to write down the date, offender classification, incident characteristics, and other factors.

How Does the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Work? 

Governor Newsom initially signed the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan into law on September 30, 2023. However, it was not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2024. 

Under this law, workplaces are expected to create a plan and train workers on violence prevention. Additionally, you must log violent incidents, maintain your records, and get worker feedback on your prevention plan. 

Are There Any Exclusions to the Law? 

If you employ 10 or more workers, you are likely required to take part in the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. There are a few uncommon exceptions, such as correction centers and hospital facilities.

What Should You Include in Your Logs? 

Thankfully, Cal/OSHA has released clear guidance on what to include in your workplace violence prevention logs. While your internal records can include the names of the parties involved, the official logs are accessible to anyone and need to have personally identifiable information redacted.

The Type of Workplace Violence 

Under the new provisions in California Labor Code Section 6401.9, there is a specific discussion about the different types of violence. There are four key types of violence incidents, which are separated according to the perpetrator classification. When you create your log, remember that you are required to report the correct type.

Type 1

This type of workplace violence refers to violence committed by someone who doesn’t have a reason to be at your workplace. For instance, this includes someone who enters your workplace with the goal of carrying out a crime, such as committing a robbery. 

Type 2 

With type 2 violence, the incident is committed by a customer, inmate, student, visitor, patient, or client. 

Type 3

Type 3 violence involves any current or former employer or manager. 

Type 4

This kind of violence involves someone who is not employed at your workplace, but who is known to your employees or managers. For instance, type 4 violence covers cases where a domestic violence incident happens between a worker and their significant other.

Data, Time, and Location of the Incident 

You must include the date, time, and location of the incident. This location is the physical address where the incident occurred. Later on, you will also need to include the location type, which refers to the type of building, structure, or environment. 

Characteristics of the Incident 

In your incident log, you must write out a detailed description of the incident. You should include any weapons involved or threats. If it was a dog bite from someone’s pet, you would explain that in your description. Likewise, you should write a description of any attack or dispute. 

The Classification of the Alleged Offender

You are not allowed to include any personally identifiable information in your logs. However, you are expected to include the classification of the alleged offender. For example, the perpetrator could be a client, vendor, worker’s spouse, boss, or patient. 

Detailed Incident Description

Next, you need to write down a detailed description of the incident. Work through the incident step-by-step and describe how everything unfolded. 

Circumstances Surrounding the Incident 

The circumstances surrounding the incident are more than just the incident description. Basically, think about what factors were precursors for the event. The following list includes some of the most common factors. 

  • Dark parking lots
  • Walking alone in an isolated area
  • Low staffing levels
  • Working in an unfamiliar location
  • New job duties

Incident Environment 

The incident environment is the location type. For instance, you might write that the incident occurred in a parking garage or a retail store.

Consequences and Actions Taken

Depending on the incident type and your response procedures, the consequences can vary. Typically, you will want to include if law enforcement or security professionals were called in. 

You’ll also want to address any actions your workplace has taken to protect employees from similar events. If you’ve identified new hazards, you should describe them and narrate the actions you’ve taken to mitigate them.

The Name and Job Title of Who Completed the Log 

Finally, you must also include the name and job title of the person who was responsible for completing the log. Once they are finished filling everything out, they should add the date the log was completed. 

Simplify Your Workplace Compliance Requirements 

You don’t have to design the log yourself unless you absolutely want to. Cal/OSHA has released a sample log toward the end of the Model Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Example that’s available on their website. It already includes the topics you’re supposed to track, so you can simply adopt the same form in your workplace. 

Even if you don’t mind creating a violence tracking log, you may want to use Cal/OSHA’s log to make incident reporting and audits easier. Cal/OSHA employees will already be familiar with different sections of this form, so it will be easier for them to use it.

Keep in mind there may be other forms you have to fill out. For instance, Cal/OSHA Form 300 must be filled out if someone becomes ill or injured at work. 

Remember to Exclude Personal Information 

When you fill out your workplace violence prevention logs, you are legally required to redact any names and personally identifiable information. These logs are supposed to be available to employees who want to see them, which is one of the reasons why your workplace must redact information. 

If you need personal information for insurance providers and other purposes, you can create a separate record. Additionally, you may need to have the names handy if you need to fill out other Cal/OSHA forms, like Form 300.

The Benefits of Logging Incidents of Workplace Violence 

Like the recent FTC noncompete ban, there has been a trend toward employee-centered laws. The Cal-OSHA’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan might involve some extra paperwork and training, but the underlying goal is to make your workplace a safe place for employees. Other than protecting your workers from harm, complying with this law can benefit businesses in other ways. 

Avoid Penalties: If a complaint is filed against you, the fines will quadruple if you aren’t in compliance with the violence prevention law.

Spot Commonalities: Employers can review these violence prevention logs to spot commonalities among incidents. If a specific incident type occurs frequently, you should take measures to prevent it. 

Document Efforts: If there is an employee complaint in the future, these logs will help you document your efforts and prove that you took measures to prevent violence in your workplace.

Be a Good Employer: Whether you want to improve employee retention or just do the right thing, preventing workplace violence can help you be a better employer.

How Long Do You Have to Keep Your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Logs? 

While many financial records typically have to be kept for seven years, California only requires you to keep these incident logs for five years. Similarly, you must keep records of hazard identification and violence investigations for five years as well. 

Prevent Violence in Your Workplace 

Any workplace that has 10 or more employees must follow California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. One of the key components is creating logs after violent incidents occur. To follow this law, you must create a log form, fill out the form after violence occurs, investigate incidents, and store incident records. 

To get help in navigating workplace violence prevention and other HR compliance challenges, connect with one of our certified small business HR experts


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