New Workplace Safety Laws in California

With Fall in full swing, it means legislative changes that affect small business owners and those they serve. At New Frontier, we help walk our customers through these changes as a part of our 4M consulting process. This week, we’re highlighting changes coming to wage and hour laws, which go into effect as soon as next year. In this post, let’s talk about SB 553 and the new workplace safety laws that are going into effect in 2024.

We’re here to help you navigate these legal changes and stay compliant with California law. As new laws are introduced and passed, we will be sure to update you on what you need to know.

Workplace Safety Laws Are Changing

On September 20, 2023, Governor Newsome signed SB 553 which will bring substantive changes to workplace safety. This law will have an impact on almost all business owners, regardless of size. While there are a few exemptions listed, it is something all businesses should pay attention to.

More still needs to be unpacked, but we want to be proactive and help you prepare for these coming changes.

SB 553 – Workplace Safety

An excerpt from the law reads:

This bill would require an employer, as specified, to also establish, implement, and maintain, at all times in all work areas, an effective workplace violence prevention plan containing specified information.

SB 553 requires the need for businesses to create a workplace violence safety prevention program, among several other notable considerations.

Other notable considerations:

  1. The names or job titles of the individuals responsible for implementing and maintaining the workplace violence prevention plan.
  2. Procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees in developing, implementing, and reviewing the workplace violence prevention plan, including their participation in identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards, designing and implementing training, and reporting and investigating workplace violence incidents. 
  3. Methods the employer will use to coordinate the implementation of the workplace violation prevention plan among employees in the same facility or department.
  4. Procedures for obtaining assistance from the appropriate law enforcement agency during all work shifts, including a written policy prohibiting the employer from disallowing or taking punitive or retaliatory action against an employee for seeking assistance or intervention from law enforcement or emergency services. 
  5. The procedures for the employer to respond to workplace violence and to prohibit retaliation against employees who make reports of workplace violence.
  6. Policies for ensuring compliance with the workplace violence prevention plan. 
  7. Methods for communicating with employees regarding workplace violence matters.
  8. Procedures for developing and providing training on the employer’s workplace violence prevention plan. 
  9. Assessment procedures to identify and evaluate risk factors for workplace violence. 
  10. A course of action for correcting workplace violence hazards in a timely manner. 
  11. Procedures for post-incident response and investigation.
  12. Maintaining policies prohibiting the employer from requiring employees to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters.


SB 553 Preview

When does SB 553 Go Into Effect?

Though the bill was signed by Governor Newsom this year, thankfully, it does not go into effect on January 1, 2024. SB 553 goes into effect on July 1, 2024, giving employers time to adjust to these changes.

Just because that may seem like a long way off is no reason to delay working on these required changes.  The bill outlines four types of workplace violence that needs to be addressed.

Type 1 violence is an offense by someone who has no legitimate business interests at the site of the violence.

Type 2 violence is an offense by someone who does have a legitimate business interest at the site of violence. This is typically a customer, employee, visitor, inmate, or similar person.

Type 3 violence is an offense between employees. This is true of both parties are current employees or if only one is a current employee and the other is a former employee.

Type 4 violence is an offense between a non-employee in a relationship with a current employee.

Implementing SB 553

Employers should look at implementing SB 553 into their Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). Employers need to both monitor and log any acts of workplace violence. This addition to their IIPP should clearly state these procedures and what the business intends to do to prevent and handle acts of violence in the workplace.

These concerns, while legitimate, are not something businesses can fully prepare for, and consultation with a qualified HR professional, safety professional, and legal council is strongly recommended.

More Changes Coming

More changes are coming to California law. We will be highlighting these changes throughout the rest of the year to help business owners get prepared for the road ahead. Stay tuned for more legislative updates. As always, if you have any questions, please be sure to contact us. We help your small business navigate the complexity of the HR landscape in California so you can sleep soundly and focus on what matters.