Health & Safety Insights

California Enacts Workplace Violence Prevention Law

Date: 3/19/2024

Violence stunned the nation again. This time it was in Maine, where on a late-October evening a shooter caused injuries and multiple deaths in a bowling alley and a bar.

As victims’ family and friends sought solace with one another, employers wondered, “What if this happened at our business?”

Employers in California will soon be required to have that answer.


New California law

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a comprehensive workplace violence prevention law – the first in the country – that will require most California employers to have a workplace violence prevention plan as part of their effective injury prevention program.

By July 1, 2024, employers must:

  • Establish, implement, and maintain an “effective” plan,
  • Record information in a violent incident log for every incident,
  • Provide “effective” training to employees, and
  • Provide additional training when a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard has been identified and when changes are made to the plan.

California employers will be required to train:

  • All employees when the training program is first established,
  • All new employees,
  • All employees given a new job assignment, and
  • All employees whenever new substances, processes, procedures, or equipment are introduced to the workplace and represent a new hazard, and whenever the employer receives notification of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.

Employers elsewhere might want to follow California’s lead and create and implement a workplace violence training prevention program.


Signs to watch for

No matter what state they’re in, employers want to know how to identify warning signs to help reduce the risk of injuries or death. Generally, there are several contributing factors, or signs, to watch for:

  • Financial, legal, or marital problems.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Mental or physical ailments.
  • Job loss.
  • Real (or perceived) unequal or unfair treatment.
  • Harassment by coworkers.

Although threats don’t always escalate into violence, when they do, the perpetrator often exhibited warning signs.

Here are some other key warning signs that could indicate a potential problem. Be alert when an employee:

  • Becomes a problem employee suddenly.
  • Gets frustrated, lashes out, or fights with coworkers.
  • Shows an obsession with weapons.
  • Makes direct or implied threats.
  • Exhibits a sudden decline in health or hygiene.
  • Presents signs of drug or alcohol abuse.


Key to remember: While California is the first state to require it, employers everywhere should have a workplace violence prevention plan in place. Recognizing the signs of danger and training employees on how to respond can save lives.

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