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California bill aimed at curbing workplace violence heads to governor’s desk

Photo: ljubaphoto/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA — The California Legislature has approved a bill that would require employers in the state to have a workplace violence prevention plan.

Sponsored by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), S.B. 533 originally included a provision that banned employer policies that direct non-security workers to confront shoplifters. However, that was removed after lawmakers received feedback from business owners.

The state Assembly passed the bill with a 55-17 vote on Sept. 11. The state Senate advanced the bill on a concurrence vote the next day. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

The bill would accelerate the development of a standard on workplace violence from the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health by requiring an effective date of July 1, 2024. Cal/OSHA has been working for six years on a Workplace Violence General Industry Draft, which would require employers to have a workplace violence prevention plan. Covered employers would be responsible for reviewing their plan annually.

The bill also would:

  • Require employers to maintain a “violent incident log” of all incidents against employees – including details on post-incident investigations and response.
  • Require worker training on how to seek help from law enforcement or colleagues assigned to respond to workplace violence emergencies.
  • Allow an employee representative to be a petitioner for a temporary workplace violence restraining order.
  • Ensure employers identify individuals responsible for implementing the plans, as well as spell out roles, trainings, and protocols for assessing and reacting to threats of workplace violence.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Legislature for standing up for workers and businesses at this time of rising workplace violence,” Cortese said in a press release. “This groundbreaking bill represents a lengthy negotiation and collaboration between business and labor organizations.”

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