By Sean Paisan & Sierra Vierra on June 13, 2022 -Jackson Lewis PC

It may come as a surprise to some, but Cal/OSHA’s workplace violence regulations currently apply only to the Health Care Industry. Cal/OSHA plans to change that.

Right now, for non-healthcare industries, Cal/OSHA regulates workplace violence using the employer’s obligation to regularly identify and evaluate workplace hazards under Section 3203, California’s version of the general duty clause.

Cal/OSHA recently released a revised draft regulation for workplace violence prevention to apply to general industry, not just health care,  proposing a broad application of the standards with limited exceptions.

Under the draft regulations, employers would need to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Program (WVPP), similar to the requirements for an Injury Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or COVID-19 Prevention Program. Among other requirements, a WVPP would need to include procedures for responding to a workplace violence emergency. For the WVPP to be effective, the employer would need to provide training to employees on handling workplace violence.

Employers would also be required to record incidents of violence in a Violent Incident Log. Under the current draft regulations, employers who have not had an incident in the past five years would be exempt from keeping a log.

Cal/OSHA invited interested parties to submit written comments on the draft regulations by July 18, 2022. It is uncertain how quickly this rule-making process will proceed. A previous effort to adopt these regulations in 2018 seemingly stalled out.

In the meantime, according to Cal/OSHA, workplaces that identify factors for potential workplace violence should include the following in their IIPP:

  • A system for ensuring that employees comply with safe and healthy work practices, including ensuring that all employees, including supervisors and managers, comply with work practices designed to make the workplace more secure and do not engage in threats or physical actions which create a security hazard to other employees, supervisors or managers in the workplace.
  • A system for communicating with employees about workplace security hazards, including a means that employees can use to inform the employer of security hazards at the worksite without fear of reprisal.
  • Procedures for identifying workplace security hazards including scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices whenever the employer is made aware of a new or a previously unrecognized hazard.
  • Procedures for investigating occupational injury or illness arising from a workplace assault or threat of assault.
  • Procedures for correcting unsafe conditions, work practices, and work procedures, including workplace security hazards, and with attention to procedures for protecting employees from physical retaliation for reporting threats.
  • Training and instruction about how to recognize workplace security hazards, measures to prevent workplace assaults, and what to do when an assault occurs, including emergency action and post-emergency procedures.

These policies and procedures should also be mirrored in employee policies to the extent necessary to ensure they are communicated to employees.