Senate Bill 553: The Shift in Workplace Violence Prevention for California Employers

March 7, 2024 | What's Hot | 4 min read

There have been significant changes in the retail sector over the past decade, ranging from expansive e-commerce vendors to door-to-door delivery. While some of these changes have been a welcomed adjustment, some have not.

Among these changes, a significant increase in assaults and violence in retail establishments has been reported by the FBI. From 2018 to 2020, a reported the following:

In response to this escalating problem, lawmakers in California have taken action with Senate Bill (SB) 553. This legislation was initially prompted by the tragic 2021 massacre at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) railyard in San Jose, which is Senator Cortese's legislative district. Following this incident, Senator Cortese helped establish a "Worker Wellness Center" to support grieving individuals and families at VTA.

Subsequently, Governor Newsom signed Senator Cortese's SB 1294, which laid out a plan to expand these wellness centers for transit workers across the state. As a crucial follow-up, in September 2023 Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 553 into law, which requires employers to provide annual interactive training regarding workplace violence prevention.

SB 553 adds to section 6401.9 of the California Labor Code, which, effective July 1, 2024, requires covered employers to adopt a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. This new requirement underlines the changing obligations for employers in California, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of employees.


SB 553 lists two major requirements:

  1. A written violence prevention plan
  2. An employee training based on the plan

One impact of SB 553 lies within the regulatory training framework. With the new requirements for all California employees, SB 553 requires a thorough and updated approach to workplace violence prevention. The content of the required training must be comprehensive, informing employees about their employer’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan.

The employer must provide training to employees initially when the plan is established and annually thereafter. The training must include the employer’s plan, how to obtain a copy of the employer’s plan at no cost, and how to participate in development and implementation of the employer’s plan

Other training requirements include:

  • Training Definitions and Requirements
  • Reporting Workplace Violence Incidents or Concerns Without Fear of Reprisal
  • Workplace Violence Hazards Specific to the Employees’ Jobs
  • Corrective Measures Implemented by the Employer
  • Seeking Assistance to Prevent or Respond to Violence
  • Strategies to Avoid Physical Harm
  • The Violent Incident Log
  • Obtaining Copies of Records of Training and Workplace Violence
  • Interactive Questions and Answers Session

Additional training must be provided when a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard has been identified and when changes are made to the plan. Employers are required to maintain records of the training for at least one year.

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The law necessitates effective training that addresses workplace violence risks that employees may reasonably encounter. This training is not a one-time event; the law requires annual employee training. Furthermore, the Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) requires periodic review, both annually and when changes occur that could affect workplace safety.

To help organizations prepare for the new bill, Skillsoft has designed a course that covers broadly applicable topics and also allows for the inclusion of company- and site-specifics.

Skillsoft offers two options to ensure a comprehensive training course:

Self Service Customers can add link(s) to documents and associated text using Content Configuration. 
Semi-Customization Customers can semi-customize the course through Skillsoft's Custom Services.

The content included in the SB553 Workplace Violence Prevention course includes:

  • A general overview of the purpose of the training
  • Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (Includes Job Aid)
  • Violent Incident Logs (Includes Job Aid)
  • Workplace Violence Hazards (Includes Job Aid)
  • Responding to Workplace Violence Incidents

Companies will need to add specific information to address the requirements fully. Examples of topics and documents to be included are:

  • The company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan
  • The company’s Violent Incident Log
  • Potential violence hazards faced by the specific to the company or industry
  • Warning signs of workplace violence specific to the company or industry
  • The company’s Violent Incident Reporting Policy

Senate Bill 553 represents a significant shift in California’s approach to preventing violence in the workplace. While compliance may be challenging for some organizations, implementing effective policies, procedures, and interactive training programs can lead to a safer work environment for all employees.

Let us help you stay ahead of the curve and keep your employees safe.