SB 553: Prioritizing Workplace Safety in California

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Apr 02, 2024

Workplace safety has traditionally focused on physical hazards and unsafe practices. However, addressing the rising concern of violence in the workplace has become a top priority for employers.

On September 30, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 553 ("SB 553") into law, ushering in a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan for virtually every California employer. Below are some key provisions: 

Mandatory Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

Effective July 1, 2024, employers must establish, implement, and maintain a workplace violence prevention plan. The plan should include specific information, such as outlining specific procedures for hazard identification, emergency response, and employee involvement. The plan must undergo an annual review process to ensure its continual relevance and effectiveness. Employers must also maintain records of workplace violence incidents. Employers must encourage employee participation in plan development and implementation, promoting a collective approach to workplace safety.

Training and Record-Keeping

Employers are required to provide their employees with effective training on preventing workplace violence and are further required to organize additional training sessions upon the identification of new hazards. An essential requirement outlined in SB 553 is for employers to maintain accurate records that include hazard identification, evaluation, correction, and training, spanning a minimum of five years.

SB 553 requires employers to conduct both initial and annual training sessions for their entire workforce. The training materials utilized must be tailored to the educational levels, literacy, and language of the employees, thereby ensuring effective comprehension and active engagement.

In response to the dynamic nature of workplace hazards, SB 553 requires additional training sessions whenever new workplace violence hazards emerge or modifications are made to the existing prevention plan. This provision ensures that employees consistently possess the necessary skills to navigate evolving safety challenges, fostering a proactive approach to workplace safety.

Enforcement and Penalties

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health will enforce the workplace violence prevention plan through citations and civil penalties. Employers may appeal citations, and standards for the plan will be proposed and adopted.

Inclusion in Injury Prevention Program

Employers must integrate the workplace violence prevention plan into their effective injury prevention program, making it a misdemeanor if violated.

Extension of Rights to Collective Bargaining Representatives

Starting January 1, 2025, collective bargaining representatives can seek restraining orders and workplace violence prevention plans on behalf of employees who have experienced violence or credible threats.


This legislation is a crucial step toward ensuring the safety and well-being of California employees. By mandating proactive measures, the state aims to create workplaces free from violence, fostering a secure environment for everyone. Employers must comply with the new requirements and contribute to a safer working environment.

If you have any questions regarding workplace prevention plans or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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