As previewed in our prior post regarding new California employment laws from the 2023 legislative session, employers must implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) and provide employee training on the WVPP by this coming July 1, 2024.  The WVPP requirement (under new California Labor Code Section 6401.9), augments the existing obligation for California employers to create and maintain an injury and illness prevention plan and is intended to combat incidents of workplace violence, which is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States according to OSHA.  The new compliance requirements are described below, along with steps employers can take to get ready.

Coverage

The WVPP requirements apply broadly to most public and private employers in California.  Notable exceptions exist for certain employers, employees, and places of employment including: employers operating in certain fields (e.g., health care, law enforcement, and Department of Corrections and rehabilitation facilities); workplaces with fewer than 10 employees working at any given time and that are inaccessible by the public, so long as the workplace is otherwise covered by a compliant injury and illness prevention plan; and employees teleworking from a location that is of the employee’s own choice and not under the employer’s control.

Written Plan

By July 1, 2024, covered employers must prepare and implement a written WVPP, and it must be kept readily accessible to employees, authorized employee representatives, and Cal/OSHA representatives.  Developing the plan may require coordination with facilities and security personnel, other employers (if the workplace is a multiemployer workplace), and office building management.  At a minimum, the written WVPP must include:

  • The names of individuals responsible for implementation.
  • Procedures and methods for:
    • Involving employees in developing and implementing the WVPP.
    • Communicating with employees regarding workplace violence, including how to report incidents, threats, or other concerns.
    • Identifying and evaluating workplace violence hazards, such as through periodic inspections, and correcting identified hazards.
    • Handling and responding to workplace violence reports.
    • Post-incident response and investigation.
    • Ensuring employee compliance, including by supervisors.
    • Coordinating with other employers (if the employer operates in a multiemployer workplace).
    • Reviewing and revising the WVPP annually, when a deficiency is observed or becomes apparent, or after a workplace violence incident occurs.
  • Training provisions.
  • Emergency response protocol.
  • Anti-retaliation provisions.

The written WVPP may be incorporated as a standalone section to an employer’s existing written injury and illness prevention plan or kept as a separate document.

Training

Employers must train employees on the WVPP by July 1, 2024.  The training — which must be easy to understand and appropriate to employees’ education level, literacy, and language — must cover the following topics:

  • Information about the WVPP itself, how to obtain a copy, and how to participate in its further development and implementation.
  • The definitions and requirements of Labor Code Section 6401.9, including instruction on the definition and types of workplace violence.
  • How to report workplace violence incidents or concerns without fear of retaliation.
  • Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs and corrective measures implemented in response.
  • How employees may seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm.
  • The violent incident log and how it works (see below).
  • How employees may request copies of certain records related to the WVPP.

The training must also include an interactive Q&A component, to permit employees to discuss the WVPP with a person knowledgeable about the plan.  The training must be repeated annually, with additional training when the WVPP is revised or new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazards are discovered. 

Violent Incident Log; Recordkeeping

Employers are required to maintain a log of all incidents of workplace violence, based on information gathered from employees who experienced the incident, witness statements, and investigation findings.  The log must include:

  • The incident date, time, and location.
  • The “type” of workplace violence, and specific incident characteristics (e.g., physical attack, use of weapon, threat, sexual assault, incident involving an animal, etc.).
  • A detailed description of the incident, circumstances at the time of the incident, and classification of the perpetrator (e.g., customer, stranger with criminal intent, coworker, relative of a coworker, etc.).
  • The consequences of the incident, including any law enforcement involvement, and what steps were taken to protect employees from further threat or hazards.

Importantly, the log should not include any personal identifying information that could reveal the identity of any person involved in the violent incident. 

Furthermore, employers must comply with certain recordkeeping requirements, including:

  • Workplace Violence Hazards.  Records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction must be maintained for at least five years.
  • Training.  Training records must be maintained for at least one year.
  • Violent Incident Log.  Violent incident log records must be maintained for at least five years.
  • Workplace Violence Incident Investigations.  Records related to investigations of workplace violence incidents must be maintained for at least five years.

The records described above must be made available to employees and their authorized representatives for inspection and copying within 15 calendar days of a request.

Getting Ready

Employers should promptly prepare a WVPP and train employees by the July 1, 2024 deadline.  Recommended next steps to ensure compliance include:

  • Identify individuals responsible for developing and maintaining the written WVPP and related training.  This may include personnel from management, facilities, security, HR, and legal. 
  • Craft the WVPP.  Cal/OSHA’s model WVPP can be used as a starting point, but employers should customize it for their worksites. Employers should also engage employees in the process of preparing the plan and, as applicable, coordinate with office building management or other employers (if the workplace is a “multiemployer” workplace).  Employers can also consult with counsel to ensure legal compliance and effectiveness of the WVPP and related training.
  • Prepare the WVPP training materials.
  • Review existing workplace violence and safety policies and procedures, including in the employee handbook, and update them as necessary in light of the WVPP.
  • Roll out the WVPP and complete initial training by July 1, 2024.

In addition to providing the model WVPP, Cal/OSHA has published guidance on the new WVPP requirements. Also, Cal/OSHA is in the process of developing a workplace violence prevention standard, which would likely be adopted by the end of 2026.

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Photo of Carolyn Rashby Carolyn Rashby

Carolyn Rashby provides business-focused advice and counsel to companies navigating the constantly evolving and overlapping maze of federal, state, and local employment requirements. She conducts workplace investigations and cultural assessments, leads audits regarding employee classification, wage and hour, and I-9 compliance, advises on…

Carolyn Rashby provides business-focused advice and counsel to companies navigating the constantly evolving and overlapping maze of federal, state, and local employment requirements. She conducts workplace investigations and cultural assessments, leads audits regarding employee classification, wage and hour, and I-9 compliance, advises on employment issues arising in corporate transactions, and provides strategic counsel to clients on a wide range of workplace matters, including harassment and #MeToo issues, wage and hour, worker classification, employee accommodations, termination decisions, employment agreements, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, employee handbooks, and personnel policies. Her approach is preventive, while recognizing the need to set clients up for the best possible defense should disputes arise.