Regulatory Developments

General Industry Violence Standard to Be Proposed in California

Moving out ahead of federal OSHA, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is developing a general industry workplace violence prevention standard. In 2017, California became the first state to require all healthcare facilities to implement protective measures for workers who may be exposed to violence.

Prevent violence

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In the wake of an uptick in violent incidents, California is now seeking to become the first state to issue general industry workplace violence rules. Federal rulemaking of this type was discussed during the Obama administration but is currently in limbo.

According to attorney Alka Ramchandani, an associate with Jackson Lewis in San Francisco, the anticipated California standard will likely affect all employers, except those employed by the Department of Corrections and healthcare workers (who are already covered). If such a standard becomes law, Ramchandani says it will result in “significant compliance issues.”

What’s Being Proposed?

The draft proposal defines workplace violence as “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs at the work site,” excluding “lawful acts of self-defense or defense of other.” According to the draft, violence includes:

  • The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in or is likely to result in injury, psychological trauma, or stress.
  • An incident involving the threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapons.
  • Four types of violence:
    • Type 1: Violence committed by someone who has no business at the worksite
    • Type 2: Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, or visitors
    • Type 3: Violence committed by a present or former employee, supervisor or manager
    • Type 4: Violence committed in the workplace by someone who does not work there, but has or had a personal relationship with an employee

The proposal would require covered employers to develop a workplace violence prevention plan that includes procedures for:

  • Involving employees and representatives in developing the plan;
  • Accepting and responding to reports of violence and prohibiting retaliation against employees;
  • Ensuring that employees comply with the plan;
  • Communicating with employees regarding workplace violence without fear of reprisal;
  • Developing and providing training;
  • Identifying and evaluating violence hazards and correcting them in a timely manner; and
  • Post-injury response and investigation.

The draft also includes provisions for training and for maintaining records of hazard identification, evaluation and correction for 1 year, and maintaining records of injury investigations for 5 years.

The Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee is currently accepting comments on the topic.

Meanwhile, California employers affected by the healthcare worker violence protection standard will be required by April 1, 2018 to comply with provisions for implementing a violence prevention plan and for training employees.