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Understanding the New California Workplace Violence Prevention Law

Workplace Safety

Understanding the New California Workplace Violence Prevention Law

In recent years, concerns about workplace violence have been on the rise. Whether it's a disgruntled employee, a client, or a random act of aggression, the safety of employees is a growing concern for businesses across the country. California, known for its progressive policies, has taken a significant step in addressing this issue with its new Workplace Violence Prevention Law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024. In this article, we will explore the core provisions of this law, its key components, and the importance of employee safety through training and awareness.

The Core Provisions of California's New Workplace Violence Law

California's new Workplace Violence Prevention Law introduces several key provisions. First and foremost, it mandates that employers must formulate a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. This plan is a critical step in addressing and preventing violence in the workplace. It also requires employers to maintain records of any threats or incidents that occur within their organizations. Moreover, it underscores the necessity for practical worker training on workplace violence. California is the first state to introduce such a comprehensive law, setting a precedent for others to follow.

Key Components of the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, a business’ workplace violence prevention plan must have several key components. They include:

1 . Designation of a person responsible for program implementation: Assign a dedicated individual or team responsible for executing the prevention plan.

2 . Report and response procedures for violence: Establish clear processes for reporting and responding to violent incidents or threats.

3 . Assurances for employees reporting incidents without reprisal: Provide guarantees of confidentiality and protection from retaliation for employees reporting incidents.

4 . Methods to alert staff about emergencies: Implement effective communication methods to alert employees during emergencies.

5 . Evacuation or sheltering plans: Create plans for safe evacuation and sheltering during violent incidents.

6 . Investigation procedures and feedback mechanisms: Develop procedures for incident investigations and collect feedback to improve the prevention plan.

7 . Periodic review and update of the prevention plan: Regularly review and update the plan to adapt to changing circumstances and evolving risks.

Build a Safer Work Environment with Employee Training

Employee safety is intrinsically linked to workplace violence prevention. It’s essential to teach employees to recognize "red-flag behaviors" because they serve as warning signs or indicators that something might be amiss. Red-flag behaviors can vary but often include signs such as increased aggression, threats, intimidation, harassment, disruptive outbursts, verbal abuse, physical posturing, or any other actions that suggest a heightened risk of violence within the workplace. Training on de-escalation techniques, such as emotional regulation, active listening, and problem-solving language, is also pivotal in fostering a safe working environment so that employees can defuse tense situations peacefully.

Workplace violence training not only enhances the safety of an organization but also promotes a culture of awareness and preparedness by equipping employees with the skills and knowledge needed to respond effectively to potential threats. It empowers them to assess situations, take appropriate action, and prioritize their safety and the safety of their colleagues. Such training fosters a sense of unity and shared responsibility within the workplace, creating a culture where employees not only look out for their own well-being but also watch over each other, ultimately contributing to a more positive and secure working environment.

Maintain Records of Incidents

Maintaining detailed records of violent incidents and threats is more than just a log-keeping exercise. These records serve as a crucial tool in identifying trends and preventing future incidents. Maintaining confidentiality in these records is paramount, and failure to do so may result in legal consequences. Employers are required to retain these records for five years, and non-compliance can also lead to penalties. Beyond aiding in trend identification and incident prevention, these records also provide a historical perspective, which can be invaluable for assessing the effectiveness of workplace violence prevention measures over time. They serve as a reference point for evaluating the success of training programs and the responsiveness of the organization to incidents.

New Provisions for Threat Management

The provisions for threat management introduced in California's new law signal a significant step in enhancing the security of employees against different types of workplace violence. One noteworthy addition is the introduction of temporary restraining orders, a legal tool that can swiftly provide protection to individuals facing threats within the workplace. This empowers employees who believe they are in immediate danger to seek legal recourse, offering a layer of defense that can help prevent potential violence. Equally critical is the emphasis on protecting the identity of employees under threat. Ensuring confidentiality in these situations is crucial as it not only safeguards the well-being of the individuals involved but also encourages others to come forward without fear of their identity being exposed.

Exceptions to the Rule

While California's new Workplace Violence Prevention Law encompasses a broad spectrum of workplace settings and situations, there are still exceptions to the rule. These exceptions include entities like the California Department of Corrections and law enforcement agencies. Additionally, remote workers operating in locations beyond the employer's control and workplaces with less than 10 employees (with no public access) are also excluded from the law's requirements. The law also acknowledges the unique needs of the healthcare industry, which already has an existing workplace violence prevention standard in place. This healthcare-specific standard recognizes the elevated risks faced by healthcare professionals due to their direct patient interactions, and it outlines strategies and requirements tailored to this environment.

Industries at a Higher Risk of Workplace Violence

Certain industries are at a higher risk of workplace violence, including retail, manufacturing, and construction. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent research in the year 2020, there were 392 instances of workplace homicides. Additionally, the workplace experienced 37,060 nonfatal injuries resulting from deliberate harm by another person. Breaking down workplace homicides by industry, the top five affected categories were sales and related roles, transportation and material moving positions, management positions, construction and extraction jobs, and production roles. Notably, workplace homicides in sales and related occupations constituted 23.5% of all workplace homicides recorded in 2020.

California's new Workplace Violence Prevention Law serves as a model for addressing and preventing workplace violence, and it is a call to action for other locations to adopt similar preventive measures. Protecting employees and creating a secure work environment should be a top priority for all organizations, and with EasyLlama’s Workplace Violence Training — it can be! Our courses educate employees on the extensive range of workplace violence, its various forms, and the most effective methods for responding with safety in mind. With our real-life video scenarios and interactive quizzes, employees will stay engaged with our modern content to better retain knowledge for when threats occur in the workplace. Access your free course preview today to learn more!

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