California's Workplace Violence Prevention Law: Definitions and FAQs

Author Headshot Written by Liz McDermott

In the wake of escalating workplace violence, understanding the definition of workplace violence has become crucial for California businesses striving for workplace safety. Senate Bill 553 places a significant emphasis on employers to develop and maintain a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan by July 1, 2024, highlighting an advanced step towards safeguarding employees from physical and emotional harm.

This legislation mandates comprehensive California training requirements and specifies the need for incident logging, employee training, and recordkeeping to ensure a safer work environment. This article addresses the vital components for compliance so your business does not underscore the law's intent to mitigate workplace violence through proactive and informed strategies.

California WVPP Law


Overview of California's Workplace Violence Prevention Law


Understanding the Basics

California's commitment to enhancing workplace safety is exemplified by the implementation of Senate Bill 553, which mandates the establishment of a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). Effective July 1, 2024, this legislation, codified under California Labor Code section 6401.9, requires employers to take proactive measures against workplace violence.


Key Provisions of the Law

The law stipulates several critical components that must be included in the WVPP. Employers are required to identify individuals responsible for the plan's implementation, involve employees and their representatives, and ensure open lines of communication regarding workplace violence matters.

Additionally, the plan must address the acceptance and response to reports of workplace violence, prohibit retaliation against reporting employees, and outline procedures for emergencies and post-incident investigations. Training programs must also be developed to effectively educate employees about identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards.


Who is Covered?

The scope of SB 553 is broad, encompassing nearly all public and private employers in California, with certain exceptions. For instance, workplaces with fewer than ten employees present at any given time and not open to the public and employees who telecommute from a location not controlled by the employer are exempt. Despite these exceptions, most California workplaces must comply with the WVPP mandates, ensuring a significant impact across diverse industries in enhancing employee safety and well-being.


Developing an Effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP)


Key Components of a WVPP

To comply with California's mandates, every Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) must include several crucial elements. These elements ensure a comprehensive approach to preventing workplace violence:

  1. Identification of Responsible Persons: List the names or job titles of individuals responsible for implementing the WVPP.
  2. Employee Involvement: Establish procedures for actively participating employees and their representatives in developing and implementing the WVPP.
  3. Hazard Identification and Correction: Include methods for identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards.
  4. Training and Communication: Outline procedures for effectively training employees on workplace violence and ensuring ongoing communication regarding workplace violence matters.
  5. Incident Reporting and Response: Develop protocols for responding to and investigating incidents of workplace violence, including safeguards against retaliation for those reporting incidents.
  6. Plan Review and Update: Procedures must be in place to regularly review the effectiveness of the WVPP and make necessary adjustments.


Employee Involvement and Training Requirements

Active employee participation is critical for the success of any WVPP. Employees must be involved in every phase of the plan, from development to implementation, to ensure that the measures taken are practical and address the real-world conditions they face. Training programs should be comprehensive and repeated annually, covering the specifics of the WVPP, how to report incidents, and how to respond to workplace violence. Training should also be tailored to fit the employees' educational levels, literacy, and languages.


Vubiz offers customizable online California Violence Prevention Training for Employees training. This 30-minute course meets compliance so your business can focus on growth.


Customizing the Plan for Different Workplaces

No single WVPP fits all settings; each workplace has unique characteristics and risks that must be addressed. Employers are encouraged to customize their WVPPs to reflect workplace conditions and hazards. This customization should include a thorough analysis of the specific types of workplace violence that might occur and tailored strategies to mitigate these risks. Employers should also consider the different roles and environments their employees work in, as these factors significantly influence the types of hazards present and the appropriate preventive measures.


Compliance and Enforcement Mechanisms


Role of Cal/OSHA in Enforcement

Cal/OSHA plays a pivotal role in enforcing the provisions of Senate Bill 553, which mandates the establishment of Workplace Violence Prevention Plans (WVPP) by employers. With the law set to be enforceable from July 1, 2024, Cal/OSHA's responsibilities include the development of a workplace violence prevention standard that aligns with the requirements of Labor Code section 6401.9. This standard is expected to be submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) by December 31, 2025, and adopted by December 31, 2026. Cal/OSHA is also authorized to enforce these regulations through its standard inspection, citation, and penalty mechanisms, ensuring that employers adhere to the mandated safety protocols.


Penalties for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with the requirements of SB 553 can result in substantial penalties for employers. Depending on the severity and nature of the violation, fines can range from $18,000 to $25,000 per violation. More severe penalties of up to $153,744 may be imposed for willful violations. These fines underscore the importance of compliance and the financial risks associated with non-adherence to the established workplace violence prevention measures.


How Employers Can Ensure Compliance

To ensure compliance with SB 553, employers must take proactive steps to establish and maintain an effective WVPP. This includes conducting risk assessments to identify potential sources of workplace violence, maintaining detailed and accurate incident logs, and providing comprehensive training to employees.

Employers must maintain records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluations, and corrections for at least five years. Training records and violent incident logs should also be kept and made available to employees and their representatives upon request.

Employers can foster a safer work environment and remain compliant with California's workplace safety laws by adhering to these guidelines and actively involving employees in developing and implementing the WVPP.


Vubiz offers customizable online California Violence Prevention Training for Employers training. This 30-minute course meets compliance helping supervisors manage incidents.


Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Violence


Assessment of Workplace Violence Risks

Employers must conduct regular Workplace Violence Risk Assessments (WPVRA) to mitigate workplace violence effectively. This process should be repeated annually or more frequently if changes occur within the workplace, such as staffing levels or work conditions. Employers must initially assess the workplace to identify and evaluate potential violence hazards. Recognized risk factors include handling money, working alone or during late hours, and interactions with potentially violent individuals.


Implementing Safety Measures

Upon identifying risks, employers must integrate specific safety measures into their Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP). This includes establishing incident reporting and response procedures, ensuring no retaliation against employees who report workplace violence, and regular training on handling potential violence. Effective training is crucial and should be accessible, considering the employees' educational and language needs. It must be conducted initially and annually.


Creating a Culture of Safety and Respect

Creating a safe and respectful workplace is foundational to preventing workplace violence. This involves developing a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy, fostering open communication, and implementing clear codes of conduct that outline expected behaviors. Regular engagement in team-building activities and promoting a healthy work-life balance are also vital. Employers should lead by example, demonstrating the organization's commitment to safety and respect, thus cultivating a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Every employee's involvement is crucial in all these practices. They should be encouraged to participate in developing and implementing the WVPP, ensuring that the measures taken are practical and address their real-world conditions.




Understanding and adhering to California's Workplace Violence Prevention Law is imperative for employers to create a safer and more secure work environment. The law mandates detailed planning, employee involvement, robust training programs, and a culture of safety and respect. Moreover, the significant implications for non-compliance, such as hefty fines and penalties, spotlight the criticality of understanding all aspects of this compliance law to ensure workplace safety and security.

In response to these requirements, employers must prioritize developing and maintaining an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, reflecting the law's emphasis on preventive measures and active participation from the workforce. As we move forward, the role of continuous education and training cannot be overstated, serving as the backbone for implementation and compliance with SB 553.

To support businesses in meeting compliance, supervisor and employee training through Vubiz online courses, starting at $14.50, emerges as a practical step towards compliance and fostering a safety culture. By embracing these essentials, California workplaces can comply with legal mandates and establish a benchmark for workplace safety, inspiring other regions and sectors to follow suit.