The recent increase in active shootings has put workplace violence safety concerns front and center for many companies. Cal/OSHA is now taking steps to pass regulations that treat workplace violence as a safety hazard for general industry businesses. California companies need to consider how to comply with the law if it goes into effect.
Any threatening, intimidating, or disruptive behavior that occurs at the job site constitutes workplace violence. It runs the gamut from verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. Employees, clients, and visitors may all be affected.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), intentional injuries resulting in death were the third-highest cause of workplace fatalities in the United States in 2019, resulting in 761 deaths. In any form, workplace violence is a significant concern for employers and employees nationwide.
Cal/OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention Regulations
The Violence Prevention in Health Care regulation is currently the only workplace violence prevention regulation that Cal/OSHA directly administers in the health care industry. All other industries are indirectly regulated by Section 3203, the Cal/OSHA version of the General Duty Clause. Because workplace violence incidents, especially workplace shootings, are increasing, the new regulation will increase protections for all California workers.
As a result, Cal/OSHA recently released a revised draft regulation regarding workplace violence prevention for general industry. The regulation would apply to all California companies and would require employers to enact measures such as:
- A workplace violence prevention plan (similar to COVID-19 prevention plans),
- A violent incident log
- Employee training
- Recordkeeping regarding workplace violence and workplace violence hazards
4 Ways to Prepare for Cal/OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention Regulation
There are many things every California business can do to reduce the risk of workplace violence and mitigate its effects if violence does occur. Whether you’re a small startup or large corporation with multiple locations, there are some basic things you can do to help ensure your team is ready to comply with future Cal/OSHA workplace violence regulations.
1) Establish a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence incidents
An excellent way for employers to safeguard their employees is to establish a strict no-violence policy and it is the best starting point for any business trying to address workplace violence. Every employee, vendor, client, visitor, contractor, and anyone else who comes in contact with company personnel should be covered by this policy.
Your organization should have clear, written expectations for staff to follow at all times as part of a workplace violence prevention program. This should include a prohibition on physical violence, threats of violence, and verbal harassment. You should also include disciplinary consequences for failing to follow these expectations. This may include verbal warnings, written warnings, and progressive discipline. Instructions on how to report workplace violence incidents should also be included.
2) Develop a workplace violence prevention plan
Cal/OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention plan, along with engineering controls, administrative controls, and education, can reduce workplace violence in both the private and state sectors.
A workplace violence prevention plan outlines the risk factors present in your company and lays out creative solutions to reduce those risks. The plan should also include a clear outline of what to do if a violent incident occurs. Your company's plan should be easily accessible to all employees, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. It should be updated on a regular basis and reviewed by managers, HR personnel, and executives once a year. This is a living document and should be treated as such.
Start developing workplace violence prevention plans for your business. OSHA offers a template to help companies coordinate implementation.
3) Implement recordkeeping for violent incidents
The California Division of Workers’ Compensation has been tracking violence against workers since 2008. That data includes the number of injuries, the types of injuries, and how they were caused. Your company should keep track of incidents of workplace violence, as well. This will help you identify trends and work toward reducing the likelihood they’ll occur again.
Employers with a workplace violence incident within the past five years, will need to implement a violent incident log. Violence incident logs are a tool for investigating occupational injury that involve employees and workplace assaults.
4) Train employees on how to manage workplace violence
A workplace violence prevention training program will equip employees with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to respond appropriately to a workplace violence situation. A good training program will not also help employees comply, but also help them identify workplace violence hazards and risk factors before they escalate into fatal occupational injuries or violent acts. A workplace violence prevention training plan also helps in correcting workplace violence hazards including self inflicted harm.
Similar to occupational safety training plans that help prevent occupational injury as per the California code of regulations, workplace violence prevention training should address post incident response. By addressing the “what if” scenarios that could lead to violence, your employees will be more prepared to respond appropriately when violence does occur.
These steps aim to help companies get ahead of Cal/OSHA workplace violence prevention plans.
Workplace Violence Prevention General Awareness Training
California companies looking to provide training can use off-the-shelf online courses, which can be customized to meet company policies and/or branding and can easily deploy general awareness training as part of your workplace violence prevention plans.
Consider these Vubiz workplace violence prevention courses to help you get started:
Workplace Violence Prevention
This 30-minute workplace violence prevention course offers 1.0 NASBA Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit.
Topics covered in this course include types of workplace violence, examples of prohibited conduct, tips on how to prevent workplace violence, tips on how to deal with irate customers and how to identify danger, the importance of reporting, domestic violence and how it affects the workplace. Learn more...
Handling Workplace Violence
This 60-minute workplace violence prevention course offers 2.0 NASBA CPE credits and will help prepare any legitimate business to effectively manage violent situations should they occur. All staff including employee representatives will gain knowledge in the following areas:
- Learn to recognize employee violence warning signals
- Assess the factors that can directly or indirectly increase the potential for violence
- Identify the steps to implement workplace violence prevention plans
- Start a training program to help employees deal with threats or violent behaviors from co-workers
- Manage a workplace violence incident should it occur
This workplace violence prevention online course was designed for employees and supervisors.Learn more...
How to Respond to an Active Shooter
This free 20-minute workplace violence prevention online course will train employees and managers on how to respond to an active shooter or other related workplace violence emergencies. It outlines the components of an emergency action plan and the signs of potential workplace violence. Learn more...
Workplace Violence Prevention For Security Officers
This 30-minute workplace violence prevention online course was specially designed for security officers and staff whose job typically involves violence. It covers workplace security hazards, lawful acts involving self defense, and working with law enforcement personnel.Learn more...
How to Respond to an Active Shooter in Retail
This 20-minute workplace violence prevention online course is designed for retail work practices. It covers how to identify unsafe conditions, how to avoid physical harm, identifying workplace security hazards, and post incident response. Learn more...