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December 12, 2023

Navigating SB 553: A Guide for California Venues to Prepare for the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan


In September 2023, California took a significant step toward workplace safety with the enactment of Senate Bill No. 553 (SB 553), mandating the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) for employers. Effective on July 1, 2024, this legislation underscores the importance of creating a safer work environment and delineates clear guidelines for compliance. 

According to SB 533, employers in the state of California – including public venues and event organizers – must implement a WVPP, which involves training employees on workplace violence hazards, maintaining workplace violent incident logs and records and conducting periodic reviews of the WVPP. The laws will be enforced by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). 

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by these requirements, have no fear. In this post, my goal is to help venues in California better understand SB 553 and how to meet the compliance requirements. 

What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence is “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment.” It includes: 

  • The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury. 
  • Any incident involving the threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury. 

As you can see from the definitions above, workplace violence encapsulates various scenarios, from physical force causing injury to threats that induce stress or trauma. It isn’t confined to employee-to-employee interactions either. It extends to any individual entering the workplace, including customers, clients and visitors, or even an individual who has or has had a personal relationship with an employee.  

A potentially threatening comment from a customer, significant other or fellow employee that an employee subjectively perceives as traumatizing or stress-inducing may qualify as “workplace violence” and require an investigation and response from the employer.

Who is impacted by SB 553? 

Understanding the scope of SB 553 is crucial. It does not apply to employers who are already covered by the Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcare standard (or employers that already comply with that standard). It also does not cover workplaces with fewer than 10 employees, teleworking setups outside employer control and those covered under specific existing workplace violence standards.

Key components of a workplace violence prevention plan 

There are four key components to developing, implementing and maintaining a WVPP at your venue. Your plan must include:

1. Workplace procedures: Detailing protocols for consultation, emergency response, risk assessment, incident response and regular reviews.

2. Incident logging: Recording all violent incidents, including near-misses, to track patterns and risks.

3. Staff training: Equipping employees with the knowledge and tools to identify, report and respond to violence.

4. Recordkeeping: Maintaining records of risk assessments, incident logs and investigations for at least one year.

5 ways to prepare for compliance 

As the July 1, 2024, deadline approaches, taking proactive steps now will be vital to your success this summer. Here are the top five things you can be doing right now to help your venue be compliant when SB 553 goes into effect.

1. Screen your organization for workplace violence hazards 

First, you need to assess the overall risk of workplace violence occurring at your venue. Every venue is unique and your WVPP should be tailored to your organization’s environment. Identify all the foreseeable causes of workplace violence that are possible at your venue. Then, measure the magnitude, consequence and likelihood of danger. This will help you be proactive about mitigating threats and reducing potential liability.

2. Create workplace violence mitigation measures 

Next, you need to determine how you will respond to the various acts of workplace violence that might occur at your venue. As noted earlier, workplace violence encapsulates various scenarios and not every scenario will require the same response. Risk treatment involves selecting and implementing controls – otherwise known as risk mitigation measures or solutions – to minimize or eliminate the risk.

3. Establish recording and reporting procedures 

Logging and reporting workplace violence incidents is a critical step in your WVPP. It helps ensure your venue stays compliant, updated on activities and monitors emerging risks.

4. Develop a staff training program 

Once you have your venue’s workplace violence procedures finalized, you will need to ensure a robust training program for employees. Like recording and reporting, this step is an ongoing process. It is essential that the entire organization is committed to your WVPP and understands the protocols should an incident occur.

5. Research technology tools 

This certainly is not the last thing on your to-do list. In fact, it would be beneficial to do this homework sooner rather than later. Technology can streamline the entire process of identifying, assessing and controlling foreseeable risks at your venue – not just workplace violence.

Embracing safety together

SB 553 isn’t just a legislative mandate; it’s a commitment to fostering a secure workplace for all. To truly ensure safety and security, venues should have a risk management plan not only for workplace violence, but any potential threat. This will help you define risk as ‘the effect of uncertainty on objectives.’ By establishing these objectives when challenged by difficult decisions, determining their impact and likelihood of occurrence, it can help you prioritize decisions that align with the overall goals and objectives.

If you are a California venue or event organizer who needs assistance in the development and implementation of WVPP, Momentus can help. Contact us today to discover how our leading software solutions can help you better plan for the prevention of risk incidents by making risk assessment simple.



Tag(s): Risk Management

Wayne Middleton

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