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California Imposes New Workplace Violence Prevention Mandate

On September 30, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 553 into law, creating a new layer to California employers’ existing injury and illness prevention programs (IIPP). Under SB 553, employers are required to implement a workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) no later than July 1, 2024, to provide training to employees regarding the WVPP and to keep records of workplace violence incidents. As of January 1, 2025, the law also expands employers’ and employee representatives’ rights to obtain restraining orders on behalf of employees affected by threats of workplace violence.

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How Healthcare Employers Can Comply With OSHA’s Rules on Workplace Violence

OSHA’s general duty clause now applies to workplace violence in healthcare Sec. of Labor v. Integra Health Mgmt., Inc., OSHRC Docket No. 13-1124 (March 2019), requiring healthcare employers to maintain workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

Abigail M. Kagan authored a primer for healthcare employers on the clause. In an article originally published on Bloomberg Law, she discusses:

  • The four criteria OSHA considers in determining whether a general duty violation has occurred
  • Engineering controls and administrative controls healthcare employers should take to protect workplaces
  • A checklist healthcare employers can utilize to begin protecting employees

Reproduced with permission from Copyright 2019 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)

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Workplace Violence

by Heather Egan Sussman, Arthur G. Sapper and Bethany K. Hatef

During the holiday season, stress can run high.  Holidays can bring less sleep, increased pressures and even family tension.  This can affect the workplace and increase the risk of confrontation or even violence.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued its first guidance directive regarding how OSHA will enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act against workplace violence hazards. 

Over the past 15 years, OSHA notes, workplace violence has remained among the top four causes of occupational death.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace homicide was responsible for more than 3,000 occupational deaths between 2006-2010.

The directive defines “workplace violence” as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.”  OSHA states that it will inspect workplaces based on whether there are known risk factors for workplace violence.  OSHA will focus on industries with high rates of workplace violence, particularly the healthcare and social services industries and late-night retail establishments.

Although OSHA has no regulations on workplace violence, OSHA may cite employers for workplace violence hazards under the general duty clause [Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act], and will require employers to consider workplace violence when complying with OSHA regulations governing the availability of medical services and first aid, and in writing emergency action plans.

As a result, employers, particularly those in high-risk industries, should ensure that they have a strong written workplace violence prevention program that includes training on violence prevention, and periodic auditing of measures designed to detect and prevent workplace violence.

To mitigate the risk of violence in your workplace, consider these tips:

  • Find ways to help employees manage stress during the holiday season.
  • Remind employees of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits.
  • Have procedures in place to quickly respond to and defuse incidents. 
  • Ensure employees feel comfortable reporting workplace violence incidents.

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