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Check back here for news and information on workplace violence and California SB 553. Submit an article for inclusion to info@wvpa.org.

Workplace Violence in the News

  • Why is the Workplace Violence Prevention Association needed?
    Workplace violence is a pervasive and concerning issue that has far-reaching implications for businesses and their employees across the United States. On a national scale, statistics on workplace violence highlight the magnitude of the problem. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), incidents of workplace violence have been a consistent concern and on the rise over the last decade. In 2020, there were 392 workplace homicides and 37,060 nonfatal injuries in the workplace resulting from an intentional injury by another person. A 2022 analysis conducted by The New York Times showed that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, assaults in retail establishments increased significantly. The analysis found that assaults in grocery stores rose by 63 percent from 2018 to 2020. Assaults in convenience stores increased by 75 percent. From physical altercations and verbal abuse to more severe incidents involving weapons, workplace violence can manifest in various forms, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. These incidents not only pose immediate threats to the well-being of employees but also contribute to increased stress levels, reduced productivity, and negative impacts on overall workplace morale. California's recently passed mandate, SB 553, requiring most businesses in the state to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan, is a model for the rest of the country. WVPA was formed to help businesses in California comply with that law and businesses everywhere prepare for and respond to violence and threats.
  • Why a membership organization?
    The new mandate for many California businesses isn’t something that can be accomplished in a one-and-done training. As the mandate came into place, it became clear to us that an inter-disciplinary approach that brings together legal, law enforcement, psychology, physical security, emergency preparedness, DEIB, human resources, behavioral intervention, and threat assessment fields would provide a much better support structure for businesses as they achieve compliance.
  • Why this membership organization?
    WVPA looks at the process of developing workplace violence prevention plans from both a state and national level. We are focused on compliance with CA SB 553 but have also built an adaptable structure that can change with new compliance guidance and direction. We have built an organization on the framework of inclusion, trauma-informed processes, and effective instructional design. Our support, guidance, advice, writing, and training can be easily understood and put into practice by those who are receiving it.
  • What is CA SB 553?
    California recently passed SB 553, which will require almost all California businesses to develop their own unique and specific workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP), either as part of their Division of Occupational Safety and Health (more commonly known as Cal/OSHA), Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) or as a standalone policy. SB 553 further mandates that all employees must be informed of these plans and trained yearly on them via interactive training. Under SB 553, almost all California employers are required to take proactive steps to prevent and respond to incidents of workplace violence. Specifically, SB 553 adds section 6401.9 to the California Labor Code. On or before July 1, 2024, California businesses required to comply with SB 553 must establish, implement, and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan. Requirements for the workplace violence prevention plan include: Specific designation of the person or persons responsible for implementing the plan. Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in developing and implementing the plan. Methods the employer will use to coordinate the plan with other employers, when applicable, to ensure that employees and employers understand their respective roles, as provided in the plan. Effective procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence, and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report. Effective procedures to ensure that supervisory and nonsupervisory employees comply with the plan. Effective procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence, including: How an employee can report a violent incident, threat, or other workplace violence concern to the employer or to law enforcement without fear of reprisal. How employee concerns will be investigated as part of the employer’s responsibility and how employees will be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective actions to be taken as part of the employer’s responsibility under this law. Procedures to identify, evaluate, and correct workplace violence hazards, including scheduled periodic inspections. Procedures for post-incident response and investigation. Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan and revise the plan as needed, including plans for the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives. Initial interactive and collaborative training about the plan when first established and annual training thereafter. SB 553 also mandates that employers keep specific records related to workplace violence, including: Records of workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction. Training records. A violent incident log for every workplace violence incident. Records of workplace violence incident investigations. These records must be maintained for at least five years and produced to Cal/OSHA upon request. While the mandate seems straightforward in summary, the various moving pieces and imbedded requirements led our team to tackle the issue of compliance from a wider, multidisciplinary perspective. While there is some uncertainty related to aspects of the mandate and how it will be implemented, the outline above provided enough information for our team to create this book to assist California businesses and other companies across the country looking to build a workplace violence prevention plan for their business. WVPA is dedicated helping businesses follow the new mandate and providing support and assistance to businesses across the country looking to build their own WVPPs.
  • I’m not in California. What does WVPA offer for me?
    Workplace violence is a national issue, even if your state doesn’t yet have a legal mandate. Having a workplace violence prevention plan in place helps your business get out in front of problems and shows a foresight and preparedness that will help with legal risk mitigation. Businesses nationwide would benefit from training employees and supervisors through our online courses, developing a process to better understand and respond to threats and violence, and having a community and advisory board available for questions. Our organization is committed to creating content that helps members both in and out of California follow their state regulations - and any new regulations put into place.
  • Can’t I just attend a training being offered by a safety consultant or law firm?
    You can, but it won’t be enough. The way the law is written requires businesses to do a lot more than talk with a safety consultant or create a paper document outlining a workplace violence prevention plan. The way we see it, these trainings only offer partial solutions. They will summarize the requirements in a one-day training or online Zoom (leaving you to meet those requirements on your own), offer one part of the puzzle needed for compliance (like a written plan or physical safety talk-through), or act as sales pitches for a tailored consultation to your business (which often costs tens of thousands of dollars).
  • I’ve read the requirements of CA SB 553, and they seem straightforward. What am I missing?
    Based on the review from our subject matter experts from diverse fields, we found several areas in need of specialized attention. There is a concerted effort to include employees in developing training and ensuring access for all employees. This means conducting climate surveys of your workplace and including employees in the methods and types of training offered. You will need to provide a robust feedback platform to track attendance and identify improvement areas. This also means offering training in various languages and with a focus on educational level and understanding. CA SB 553 is committed to a wide range of workplace violence prevention concepts, from intimate partner/domestic violence to responding to threats, both between employees and outsider threats. This means not only understanding the nature of these risks but also establishing, implementing, and monitoring educational programming, training materials, and documentation and following an equitable and consistent process with mitigated bias and cultural competency to address violence in the workplace. There is specific language in the new law that requires the development of what the field refers to as a growth mindset, meaning developing and implementing a continuous process of learning from unforeseen risks and taking active steps to incorporate new approaches to mitigate these risks as part of the ongoing workplace violence prevention plan. This means a single training on compliance requirements or a document that shows a business has a written plan won’t be enough. CA SB 553 requires these plans to be evaluated and updated in a continuous fashion as new risks are encountered. While some groups offer annual training or periodic updates, what makes WVPA different is a model that can adjust as new issues arise. The required workplace violence prevention plans need to be tailored to the specific nature of violence risk at each business. The kind of threats a restaurant may face from upset customers will differ from the violence risks faced by businesses located in high-risk wildfire areas or those operating fishing or agricultural businesses. By building a community, WVPA brings business stakeholders together to talk with each other and learn from both successes and mistakes.
  • What should I look for in a training or membership organization?
    It is important that whoever you work with understands local, state, and federal laws and has developed training materials tailored to their requirements. To that end, all WVPA online trainings were created by recognized experts after studying the requirements of CA SB 553. The free online training series we offer is content-based and is not simply a review of the requirements. Our courses are designed to assist you in building your workplace violence prevention plan without significant time and financial investments. Similarly, our experts have written a book that will support our members and help create safe work environments for employees, employers, and their customers.
  • We've never had a violent act occur in our workplace and the people at my company are good people. What benefit would it be for to belong to an organization like this?
    Workplace violence can happen from within the company or occur randomly to your facility. We saw an example of this on October 25, 2023, in Lewiston Maine, when an attacker targeted a local bowling alley and bar because he believed they were broadcasting messages that he was a pedophile. In cases like that, having the staff trained in Run/Hide/Fight and using a barricade/lockdown and shelter-in-place as part of an all-hazard training could have saved lives. WVPA has training programs in these areas, as well as crisis communications and conflict resolution/crisis de-escalation. While this kind of violence did not occur between employees, knowing how to respond and what to look for in terms of dangerousness may have helped. Another benefit to membership is related to the legal risk mitigation for your company. If an incident of violence occurs at your workplace, you can lean into your policy, procedures, reporting system, and staff training. Having a formalized plan in place is quickly becoming an industry standard. At WVPA, our goal is to offer affordable memberships and online training, while encouraging conversation and discussion with other business owners who understand your concerns.
  • We already have a HR/risk management department at my company that deals with these types of issues. How would your organization work with our existing team?
    We like to hear that business have already begun to address the problem of workplace violence with an internal HR and/or risk management team. Our membership benefits are designed to help both those new to violence prevention planning and those with existing plans and processes. One example of how we can help is by providing you with a compliance checklist document to determine if your business is complaint with California’s new mandate. Not in California? We can help by having your team access the Pathways-HR or DarkFox threat assessment systems. These allow your team to enter in details of a particular case and then you receive tailored intervention suggestions to add to your risk mitigation plan. Other benefits include access to our template Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and violent incident log. We offer training programs for employees on the topics of situational awareness, all-hazard response, crisis de-escalation, and active assailant response. For supervisors and managers, we have additional training programs available on the topics of crisis communications, conflict resolution, and critical incident response. Your WVPA administrator will receive tracking information to ensure all your employees have been trained.
  • Our company doesn't have a physical office. How would this organization benefit companies that conduct business either partially or totally virtually?
    Virtual offices and hybrid positions come with their own set of challenges related to workplace violence prevention. While we offer our courses on-site from one of our expert trainers, membership includes access to our virtual training courses. We keep up to date on current online and virtual threats that may not include an immediate threat of physical violence but may result in a loss of productivity and employee satisfaction, leading to high turnover. We are very comfortable in the virtual space and can connect you with other businesses that operate in this space, with its unique needs for violence prevention, through our bulletin board, where you can ask questions and gain insight.
  • We have several staff that primarily speak and read Spanish or other languages. Could your organization help us create policies and training in other languages?
    We have several advisory board members who speak Spanish and other languages. If we don’t have someone who can meet these needs, we are committed to connecting to the company through translator services. Our introductory video is available in both English and Spanish and we remain committed to proving tailored, quality policy, procedures, training, and programming to each group we work with. We will work with you to meet the needs of your workplace and employees.
  • If I join, how easily will I be able to talk to someone if I have questions?
    Our team is made up of people who see membership service as something core the organization. You can contact our group through the website, online bulletin board, or direct emails. For us, it goes deeper than just being available and talking with clients and customers who have questions. This willingness to engage and talk directly with people is at the heart of our mission. Whether it’s a quick phone call, email, zoom or in-person meeting, we are excited to talk with you. We find your questions often lead to updates in how we talk with others and develop new processes and content to meet the needs of the organization and its members.
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