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  • Hannah Brown

Workplace Violence Prevention Planning

In California, all employers with a worksite with 10 or more employees are required to have a written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) and training for employees regarding the Plan and certain deescalation methods. As we work primarily with small design firms, the requirement carves out an exemption for remote employees and employers with fewer than 10 employees on site so long as the office is "not open to the public". Thus far, definition of "open to the public" has not been posted by Cal OSHA or the Department of Industrial Relations. As we have been working on draft plans for clients with 10+ team members and attending webinars, we have seen divergent definitions of "open to the public" and some risk adverse advisors feel that if anyone from outside your organization is welcome in your office, you should prepare a WVPP and training. I recommend reaching out to your employment attorney to see what they advise if you are fewer than 10 individuals on site.

The Plans are to be in effect July 1, 2024 and training is to happen annually and for each new hire. Cal OSHA has prepared a model Plan that is available here. Look for the Model Written Workplace Violence Plan for General Industry. There is also a Fact Sheet for Employers regarding this new requirement that I recommend as a brief introduction. The model needs to be edited with persons responsible for the Plan, methods of reporting instances of violence, investigative process, logs of incidents, training plans, and interactive process for updating the Plan as concerns are brought forward. We've been asked to help create Plans for our clients and we can create a draft, but we will need a point person who helps identify unique safety issues, the context of your office relative to other risks and other parties with whom you may need to coordinate, and measures you may have implemented in past. This point person should become responsible for collecting ideas from other employees and other tenants with whom you share space, vetting those ideas, implementing changes and editing the Plan.

As there are many variables to the Plan, you may decide to have someone versed in your firm's Operations take on this responsibility. If so, Cal Chamber of Commerce is offering a 2-hour webinar which includes how to create and develop a program for a specific workplace. See link here. The webinar includes a separate Toolkit that has digital resources such as a Checklist, an Incident Log, and Training Template and Record. (Cal Chamber of Commerce is also my go-to for Harassment Prevention Training which is required in California every two years for all employers.)

Once the Plan is drafted, have you administrator introduce the WVPP and definitions of workplace violence to your team in an all-team meeting and invite responses. This is the time to update everyone on means of egress and rendezvous points in case of emergency evacuation. Record who attended this meeting with a sign-in sheet and file with the Plan. Also note where a copy of the Plan can be found (usually with your Handbook and accessible to everyone). Gathering feedback at the all-team meeting and thereafter will likely mean implementing a few changes to your office security system and revising the Plan. Recording any changes you've made will show you are being responsive to employee concerns which is one of the intention of the Violence Prevention Act.

The all-team meeting will be part of your Training, but if you feel a need to train further, I recommend Traliant for an online course you can purchase to cover other aspects of the California requirements such as de-escalation methods. The course is 30 minutes long and at the end participants will receive a certificate of completion, which you should collect and file with your draft WVVPs.

Given that July 1st is upon us, don't panic if you haven't started or finished the process of creating a WVPP. As soon as you are able to, identify the person responsible and have them start editing the plan and calendar a deadline to present a draft to the team. This will be a work in progress Plan that will likely be edited as incidents or concerns arise.

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