The California legislature has just passed SB 553, which now awaits the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom.
This legislation includes several important provisions, such as the requirement for organizations to create and implement a workplace violence prevention plan.
Other key elements in the legislation are designed to help protect employees and manage workplace violence incidents.
Among these provisions in SB 553 are the following:
· A workplace violence emergency team would be created and trained to seek help from law enforcement or designated personnel in case of a workplace violence emergency.
· Employers would be required to keep a record of any violent incidents against their employees, including post-incident investigations.
· The legislation would follow the currently required Injury Illness Prevention Plan. This plan, which must be reviewed annually, requires employers to identify the individuals responsible for implementing the plan, their roles, training, and the procedures taught for assessing and responding to potential threats of violence.
· Under SB 553, an employee representative can file a temporary restraining order for workplace violence if needed.
· Employers would also be required to explain how to report violent incidents to their employees and how their concerns will be addressed without fear of retaliation.
· Procedures for responding to violent emergencies would be clearly laid out in SB 553. This would include alerts, feasible evacuation, sheltering plans, and obtaining assistance from staff, security, or law enforcement.
“This is very similar to workplace violence programs we have created for many of our clients,” says Oscar Villanueva, COO of TAL Global, a leading security consulting and risk management firm in Silicon Valley, CA.
“These programs are customized to each organization and designed to address workplace violence prevention, mitigation, and management.”
We should also point out that SB 553 is specifically for the state of California.
However, similar legislation has already been passed in other states, such as Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Further, legislation is also now being considered by the U.S. Congress.
According to Villanueva, this legislation and these programs demonstrate that states are finally taking action to combat workplace violence and safeguard individuals and organizations from its impact.
“TAL Global is pleased this legislation includes key elements of our Prepare-React-Recover program, a methodology TAL Global recently created to better deal with active shooter situations.”
He adds that TAL Global’s clients find Prepare-React-Recover to be a very cost-effective solution, “especially when you consider it can help prevent violent incidents, protect lives and property, and put people and organizations back to work as quickly as possible.”
See Sidebar Below: ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT of SB 553
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT of SB 553 FROM CALIFORNIA LEGISLATORS
The sponsors of this bill argue that worker health and safety is an emergency and needs to be treated as such noting that,
“Assaults at California stores have been increasing at a faster pace than the national average. From 2018 to 2020, assaults reported to the F.B.I. by law enforcement agencies overall rose 42%. There was a 63% increase in grocery stores and 75% in convenience stores.”
Regarding [another pending bill promoted by] Cal/OSHA, supporters of SB 553 argue, “no progress on this pending standard has been made since its introduction, and many steps remain before it could take effect.” They conclude these remaining steps are highly likely to consume several additional years or more.
“Workers, who fear for their lives going to work every single day, do not have years to wait for Cal/OSHA to act and
adopt a General Industry Workplace Violence Standard.”