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Confused About SB 553 Compliance? WVPP FAQs, Answered

Contributor: Tabitha Aliano, PHR, HR Consultant

May 13th, 2024 | 5 min. read

By Tony Calavitta

With July 1st, 2024 around the corner, the countdown to SB 553 enforcement is well underway.

In other words, it’s time to finalize your compliance strategy and make sure that you meet all of necessary Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) requirements.

And the steep penalties – capped at $25,000 per ‘serious’ violation and soaring to $153,744 per ‘willful violation’ – have many California employers concerned about the intricacies of this new law. In response to broad interest, we've done extensive research into the most commonly questioned and confused aspects of SB 553 compliance.

Our goal? It's simple.

At Combined, we want to equip you with all the essential information needed to develop and implement your WVPP.

Why? It's simple.

So, your business can meet California’s legislative standards, set a new benchmark for safety within your organization, and avoid emptying your pockets on preventable penalties.

That's why we've compiled the most critical compliance details into this comprehensive FAQ article.

Ready to enhance your company’s workplace safety, compliance, and confidence?

Without further ado, here are the FAQ answers you need to know to comply with SB 553 while creating a proactive defense against potential workplace threats.

SB 553, WVPP, and answers to your top related FAQs

Here are our answers to the most confusing, complicated, and maybe even concerning FAQs about compliance with California's new WVPP requirement.

  General information about WVPP:

Question #1: Who needs to create and implement a WVPP?

Every covered employer in California, with very few exceptions, is required to develop and implement a comprehensive WVPP. Implementing it is mandatory, ensuring that organizations have proactive measures in place to manage and mitigate the occurrence of workplace violence.

Beyond compliance:

Your WVPP is more than just a legislative formality; it's instrumental to protecting your workplace. By having a plan in place, you can demonstrate your commitment to employee safety and well-being.

Question #2: Are there any employer exemptions?

While the large majority of businesses in California are required to comply with the WVPP mandate, there are a few exceptions.

Exemptions apply to:

  • Healthcare facilities, prisons, and law enforcement agencies – These workplaces often have existing, often more specific and extensive, safety protocols in place.

  • Companies with only remote employees – The law doesn't apply if your employees all work from their own chosen locations, like home offices or coffee shops, that you have no control over.

  • Small workplaces with less than 10 employees – This exception applies if your workplace is private, with no public access, and has fewer than 10 people working there at any given time.

Question #3: What date does the WVPP need to be active?

The deadline to have a fully functional WVPP in place is July 1, 2024. To comply with the regulation, all covered employers must have their plans ready and operational by this date.

Mark your calendar:

It’s a firm compliance deadline that you don't want to miss!

  Content and structure of the WVPP:

Question #4: What does the plan need to include?

Your comprehensive WVPP must incorporate all of the following elements:

1. Designated responsibilities

The names of the individuals responsible for the implementation of your plan.

2. Employee involvement

Procedures that allow and encourage your employees to participate in the development and implementation of the plan.

3. Coordination with other employers

If your workplace has multiple employers operating in the same location, as with a shared office space or building, your WVPP needs to consider how you'll work together.

This means finding ways to:

  • Communicate your plans
  • Coordinate policies and procedures
  • Designate and establish clear contact points
4. Incident handling and non-retaliation

Your plan should detail how employees can safely report workplace violence and guarantee no retaliation for those who do.

5. Compliance and communication

Measures to ensure that all of your employees, including supervisors, comply with the plan and understand how to communicate information concerning workplace violence.

6. Emergency responses and training

Your WVPP should outline emergency response protocols with a comprehensive training program for all employees.

7. Hazard identification and evaluation

Procedures to identify and evaluate potential workplace violence hazards should be included in your plan.

This encompasses an outline covering the required frequency of inspections:

  • When the plan is first set up
  • Periodically scheduled
  • After violent incidents
  • Whenever a new hazard becomes known
8. Procedures to timely correct identified hazards

Your plan must include methods to promptly address hazards identified during routine checks as well as following an incident.

9. Annual and incident-triggered reviews

Your WVPP also needs to incorporate a process for regular reviews to ensure it remains relevant and effective. These reviews should be triggered annually, after any significant incident, or when new safety information becomes available.

10. Additional Required Procedures

As mandated by the Division and Standards Board, your WVPP must include any other necessary procedures for employee health and safety. This ensures comprehensive coverage of all aspects of workplace safety beyond the standard framework.

Cover Your Bases:

By including all of these essential elements, you can avoid paying aggressive compliance penalties.

Question #5: Can the WVPP be integrated into other safety programs?


Your WVPP can be integrated as a standalone section within your existing written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or maintained as a separate document. This integration allows for streamlined safety protocols and a cohesive approach to workplace safety.

  Record keeping and reporting:

Question #6: Do employers need to keep a log of violent incidents?


Employers are required to maintain a log of all violent incidents for a minimum period of five years. The violent incident log is a critical part of your WVPP because it helps track trends and areas of concern that may need attention.

Question #7: What records are required? How long must they be kept?

Employers must create and maintain records of:

  • Workplace violence hazard identification, evaluation, and correction for at least five years
  • Training records for a minimum of one year
  • Violent incidents and investigations for at least five years

Question #8: Is employee training required? When should it be conducted? 


All employees, including managers and supervisors, must receive training on the WVPP annually as well as after every incident. Additional training should also be provided whenever a new hazard is identified.

Pro Tip:

This training should be part of the orientation for new hires to introduce their roles and responsibilities related to workplace violence prevention. It can underscore the importance of your workplace safety from day one!

Question #9: What about training for employees that read or speak in a language other than English?

It is your responsibility, as the employer, to provide all training and educational materials related to the WVPP in the language, literacy, and understanding level of each and every employee. This certifies that all team members understand your plan’s policies and procedures.

  Types of workplace violence:

Question #10: What are the different types of workplace violence?

Workplace violence can be categorized into four different types:

Type 1: External threats

Violence perpetrated by individuals who have no legitimate business at the worksite, posing an external threat to safety.

Type 2: Customer-initiated violence

Acts of violence directed at employees by customers, clients, or any individuals receiving services from the organization.

Type 3: Internal conflicts

Violence involving coworkers, supervisors, or managers by current or former employees, reflecting conflicts within the workplace.

Type 4: Personal relationships

Incidents of violence in the workplace caused by someone who does not work there but has a personal relationship with an employee, bringing external personal conflicts into the work environment.

Best Practice:

Correctly categorizing violent incidents is key to targeted prevention!

Compliance and enforcement

Question #11: How can employees report workplace violence concerns or incidents?

As part of your WVPP, you must establish and communicate the channels through which employees can report workplace violence. These channels should include reporting hotlines and anonymous reporting forms to ensure that employees can report incidents without fear of retaliation.

Question #12: What is the penalty for not having a WVPP?

Failure to develop and implement a WVPP can result in substantial penalties under Cal/OSHA’s enforcement standards.

Penalties can range up to:

  • $25,000 for 'serious' violations
  • $153,744 for 'willful' violations

Bonus question: Do you need help with your WVPP?

If you are here, you have the insights to construct a comprehensive and compliant WVPP. But, performing that task on your own can be a challenge.

Why? Because it’s NOT simple.

At Combined, we know that; and we want to simplify it for you.

We specialize in crafting customized plans that not only meet California’s WVPP mandate but can also integrate seamlessly into your company’s existing safety protocols. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through every step of the process, from initial assessment to full implementation.

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Put SB 553 compliance concerns behind you.

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This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.