Getting into the Weeds on SB 553- California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Standard

By Jennifer L. Lippi, JD, SPHR, PHRca

Earlier this month, in our 2024 legal update, we highlighted the key requirements of SB 553, which is California’s new workplace violence prevention law. SB 553 imposes significant obligations on almost all employers to comply with effective July 1, 2024.  The Bill requires most California employers to create a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, provide annual training, create and retain workplace violence incident logs, and properly maintain records regarding training and violent workplace incidents.  We thought it would be helpful to go into some of the more specific details of the law’s workplace violence prevention and training requirements.  

Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (“WVPP” or “the Plan”):

SB 553 requires most employers to create and implement a written WVPP. The WVPP may be included as part of the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (“IIPP”) or maintained as a separate document. The specific required contents of the WVPP were outlined in the Silvers HR 2024 Legal Update. It is important to remember that the WVPP must cover more than just incidents of violence perpetrated by employees. SB 553 outlines four workplace violence types:

  • Type 1 violence: Means workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.
  • Type 2 violence: Means workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.
  • Type 3 violence: Means workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  • Type 4 violence: Means workplace violence committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there, but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

Notably, “workplace violence” does not include lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others.

Training of Employees:

SB 553 also has an expansive training requirement. Employers are required to provide effective training when the WVPP is initially implemented and then annually thereafter. Training materials must be appropriate in content and vocabulary to the education level, literacy, and language of the employees.  The training must review the following:

  • The WVPP and how employees can obtain a copy and participate in development and implementation of the Plan;
  • The definitions and requirements of SB 553;
  • How to report workplace violence incidents to the employer or law enforcement without fear of retaliation;
  • Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, the corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm; and
  • The violent incident log and how to get copies of workplace violence incidents reprts.

The training must also provide an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about the employer’s WVPP. Employers must maintain training records for at least one year.


The following employers are exempt from the requirements of SB 553:

  • Most healthcare facilities and operations, including hospitals and outpatient clinics; emergency medical and transport services, drug treatment programs and more (they already have their own workplace violence prevention standards);
  • Facilities operated by the Department of Corrections;
  • Law enforcement agencies that have received confirmation of compliance with the Peace Officer Standards and Training Programs;
  • Employees working remotely from a location of the employee’s choice (must be 100% remote); and
  • Places of employment where there are less than 10 employees working at the place at any given time and that are not accessible to the public.

SB 553 is quite detailed and there is a lot to do by July 1, 2024. We are hopeful that Cal OSHA will provide a template WVPP and incident logs for employers to use and will keep you posted if they implement one.

A copy of SB 553 can be found here.