California Employers Must Adopt New Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

October 19, 2023 Advisory

On Sept. 20, 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 533 into law, which requires covered employers to adopt a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury Illness Prevention Plan. The law also requires employers to provide training on their plan and maintain records of any threats or incidents of violence at the workplace and investigations performed. The new law adds section 6401.9 to the California Labor Code and takes effect July 1, 2024.

Covered Employers

The law covers all employers except:

  • certain health care facilities;
  • certain law enforcement and correctional facilities;
  • employees teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice, which is not under the control of the employer; and
  • places of employment with fewer than 10 employees working at any given time, and that are not accessible to the public.

Requirements of a Written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Covered employers must establish, implement and maintain an “effective” written workplace violence prevention plan. Minimum requirements for such plan include:

  • identification (name, title) of individuals responsible for implementing and maintaining the workplace violence prevention plan;
  • procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees in developing, implementing and reviewing the plan;
  • procedures for the employer to respond to workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation against employees who report it;
  • procedures for ensuring compliance with the plan;
  • procedures for communicating with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including how employees can report incidents, how employee concerns will be investigated, and how employees will be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective actions; and
  • procedures for obtaining assistance from the appropriate law enforcement agency.

The plan is to be available and easily accessible to employees, authorized employee representatives and representatives of the division at all times.

We note these substantive requirements are similar to the workplace violence prevention standard that Cal/OSHA adopted in October 2016, applicable to employers in the health care industry.

Employers Must Maintain Records

In addition to developing and implementing a workplace violence prevention plan, covered employers must also “record information in a violence incident log” about every incident, post-incident response and any workplace violation injury investigation performed in accordance with the workplace violence prevention plan.

Information that is recorded in the log for each incident shall be based on the information solicited from the employees who experienced the workplace violence, including:

  • date, time and location of the incident;
  • workplace violence type(s) (i.e., type of physical attack, if it involved a weapon, threat of physical violence, sexual assault, animal attack, or other);
  • detailed description of the incident;
  • classification of who committed the violence (i.e., client, customer, family, friend, stranger, supervisor, etc.);
  • classification of circumstances at the time of the incident (i.e., whether the employee was completing usual job duties, working in a poorly lit area, rushed, working alone, etc.);
  • consequences of the incident (i.e., whether security or law enforcement was contacted, and response); and
  • information about the person completing the log (name, job title, date).

The employer must omit any element of personal identifying information sufficient to allow identification of any person involved in a violent incident. These records must be maintained for at least five years and produced to Cal/OSHA upon request.

Employers Must Provide Training

Covered employers are required to train employees on particular subjects, allow for “interactive” Q&A, and be in “vocabulary to the educational level, literacy, and language of employees.” Covered employers must provide training to all employees no later than July 1, 2024, and annually thereafter.


The new law does not set forth specific mandates on what is considered an “effective” workplace violence prevention plan. Rather, employers must include procedures for responding to “actual or potential workplace violence emergencies.” As such, employers must develop a plan “specific to the hazards” of their workplace that is inclusive of more general considerations, such as assault and active shooter scenarios.

SB 553 requires that by Dec. 1, 2025, Cal/OSHA shall propose further standards for workplace violence prevention plans for adoption by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board by Dec. 31, 2026. Covered employers, therefore, should prepare and implement their workplace violence prevention plans and deliver training to its employees ahead of any additional guidance by Cal/OSHA.

If you have any questions about SB 533 and establishing, implementing and/or maintaining a workplace violence prevention plan, please feel free to reach out to your regular Armstrong Teasdale lawyer or one of the authors.

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