employees taking workplace violence prevention training

Workplace violence has grown as a topic of concern and focus for employees and employers alike in recent years. Given that the term workplace violence often doesn’t fall within our common understanding of the term violence (physical or verbal violence) proper training through workplace violence training programs is critical to create safe workplaces.

California’s Senate Bill 553 (SB 553) was signed into law on September 20, 2023, in an effort to set forth new workplace safety standards. Employers must have specific programs and procedures in place to comply by July 1st, 2024. Although the bill only applies to California-based employers, it’s probable that other states will adopt similar measures in the near future.

In this article we explore the changes and requirements that SB 553 has introduced and how it will affect employers and their personnel. We touch on:

What is California SB 553?

How SB 553 Will Affect Employers

4 Practical Steps to Ensure You Stay Compliant

BizLibrary’s Workplace Violence Prevention Training

What is California SB 553?

CA SB 553 was signed into law by California’s governor as a measure to introduce heightened standards for workplace violence and safety preparation, training, and reporting.

The most notable part of the bill requires employers to add a written workplace violence prevention plan or WVPP. SB 553 outlined that the written plan will need to include factors like:

  • Names and job titles of the people implementing the WVPP.
  • Procedures on how they will actively involve their employees in the development and implementation of the plan, including gathering their input on how the reporting and resolution process will work.
  • The employer’s finalized methods and procedures for addressing and correcting unsafe practices.
  • Comprehensive training for employees on general workplace safety practices as well as specific training pertaining to their specific job duties and responsibilities.
  • The employer’s processes and procedures for carrying out disciplinary action, post-incident responses and investigations.

SB 553 also requires employers to keep detailed records, allow for temporary restraining orders and update their WVPP on a yearly basis.

The bill applies to all California employers except those with less than 10 employees who are not accessible to the public, health care facilities, and employees teleworking from a location of their choosing which is not under the control of the employer.

How SB 553 Will Affect Your Organization

California SB 553 mandates much more specific and robust workplace violence prevention plans than ever before.

For starters, the bill requires that each business create a tailored workplace safety program and have the details of how that plan was conceptualized, by whom, how it will be implemented and how it will be assessed – all in written form.

Your HR and L&D teams will also play a critical role in making sure your organization stays compliant with the new measure. As of July 1st, 2024, it will require that employees receive annual comprehensive training in areas topics like how to recognize workplace violence hazards, reporting mechanism, employe rights, and the general structure of your WVPP.

Finally, organizations will need to create a comprehensive incident log to categorize by the incident type and the positions of those involved (no personal information is required). This log must also be accompanied by the keeping of records like: incident reports & investigations, training records, and changes to the WVPP.

4 Practical Steps to Ensure You Stay Compliant with Senate Bill 553

1. Tailor your program to your industry and organizational needs

Using generic workplace violence training measures will most likely end up hurting your organizations compliance status and overall safety in the long run.

One great way to tailor your program is by implementing focus groups through which employees can help your HR and L&D teams shape how your overall safety program and WVPP are going to look based on their experiences working at the organization.

2. Provide comprehensive employee training

Whether you’re starting from scratch or adding SB 553 compliance components to your existing training program, make sure you use a modern and engaging learning platform through which you can customize your program to different roles and positions.

The right Learning Management System (LMS) can help you simplify the delivery of your workplace violence prevention program and stay on track with your compliance requirements.

3. Document Everything

Make sure to use a log that includes, at the very least, the following basic information:

Date/Time of incident
Location (within the workplace)
Type of incident (verbal violence, physical assault, etc.)
Individuals involved
Description of incident
Disciplinary/ follow up action taken

To help you speed up the process of creating your orgs log use something like this incident log template from the California Employers Association as a starting point and adapt it to fit your program (this is a great place to use AI tools!).  

4. Make SB 553 part of your culture of compliance

Looking at compliance as a part of your workplace culture, and not just a yearly task on HR’s to-do list can be a game changer for your organization.

Encouraging employees to bring up questions, concerns, and complaints about workplace safety through anonymized and open feedback and discussing these points with the entire organization will create buy-in from employees. Buy-in will lead to your people conceptualizing that compliance and workplace safety is simply a part of your way of doing things and not a yearly occurrence.

BizLibrary’s Workplace Violence Prevention Training

Now that you understand the ins and outs of California’s Senate Bill 553, you may be curious if and how BizLibrary can help.

As part of our extensive library of on-demand compliance training video content, we offer titles on workplace violence prevention that can be deployed to your organization via our AI-powered Learning Management System or through your existing platform, to help you build your training program.

Because we know that generic training will not make for successful compliance and overall workplace violence prevention programs, we work with each one of our clients via our implementation and client success teams to help them build a training program that matches their industry, workforce, and organizational objectives.  

Important Disclaimer – This post is for informational and educational purposes only. The information presented here should not be taken as legal advice or used as a substitute for such.