California OSHA: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan - Mission to Grow: A Small Business Guide to Cash, Compliance, and the War for Talent - Episode # 105

Mary: you should also be telling the employees, there'll be no retaliation. Please bring all of your concerns forward. You don't want them to be scared to bring a concern forward. Forward, because then you're, you're going to hear about them too late.

Mike: Cal OSHA, Workplace Violence Prevention. California just passed a new law this week. Uh, we want to unpack it for everybody. It takes effect July 1st. So, California's OSHA, uh, uh, it's Workplace Violence Prevention. Uh, we're gonna unpack, you know, who has to comply, what the law means, what kind of records you have to keep.

Uh, there's a lot of specifics and these are new things for all businesses in California. Uh, so, uh, I've got the perfect guest to unpack this. If you're a regular watcher of the show, you know who Mary is. She's a SHRM certified professional. For the last eight years, she's been an adjunct professor at the New York Institute of Technology.

She was the director of HR consulting for a 58 year old HR consulting firm in New York. And she is our very own Vice President of HR Compliance at Assure. Welcome back, Mary.

Mary: Thanks, Frank. Happy to be here.

Mike: Okay, so, uh, if you live in California, a lot of businesses, you've been watching the news, you know this is coming, but this thing is finally done.

It's law. Governor Newsom just signed this thing this week. What does this mean for businesses in California?

Mary: So, it's actually not too far out of what they've had to do in the past. So, in the past, they had an injury illness prevention program. So, this plan can be now part of that, or it can be standalone. And they also have given employers a model plan. And we always say to employers, why would you create, recreate the wheel, use their model plan, It gives you suggestions. It gives you places where you have to fill in. We've helped lots of clients do this. And I guess the 1 thing that I would focus on, which we've been seeing with clients that they haven't been focusing on, is the prevention piece, right? This is, uh, and, you know, saying that it's part of the injury illness prevention, right?

Now, this is violence prevention, preventions in both plans, Mike. So that's what I want employers to focus on. A lot of my employers are focusing on. Active shooter, and there are pieces in here on what to do. And I, I do think that's important in, in the world we live in now, but don't. I don't want employers to make that their focus.

The prevention piece is what they need to focus on.

Mike: Okay. So, so what makes this, uh, aside from the title workplace violence, that sounds, I don't know if it sounds broad, but it sounds, it sounds very different. Then the things we're used to in HR, the fact that this is being managed by Cal OSHA, California's OSHA, um, Occupational Safety Health Organization, right, um, We know the OSHA controls whether you have proper shoring in a ditch and whether your ladders are, are, are correct and you have proper safety harnesses.

So it kind of makes sense, workplace safety, but what, what, what is it about workplace violence in general? Can you, can you give us maybe a definition of what that means? Yeah.

Mary: Yeah, simply stated people get hurt. So I think what they're trying to do here, and I think it's. Important, they're trying to prevent, um, violence from happening. Right? So, so part of the plan asks questions like, you know, in your parking lot, is there lighting? Right? So it's violence from outside people.

And, you know, the individuals in your organization, but OSHA oversees safety and the health of your, your employees. So this would fall under it and we're going through this with so many employers and 1 employer said, I was very worried about, you know, the people leaving the office late at night when the sun was down.

I kind of already did half of this. So, where it might seem kind of out of the realm of, of what we should be doing as an employer. It really is a good practice,

Mike: Yeah.

Mary: know, for employers to do. So I was really, um, happy to hear from a couple clients that they had already put some extra lights in the parking lot.

They make a policy that two people walk out to the cars. Nobody closes the building alone. I was really happy to hear all that. And that's the guidance that you'll see out of the prevention plan.

Mike: Okay. So, so that, that makes me feel better already that this is, on one hand, uh, I worry for employers as a, as a fellow entrepreneur, I worry for employers, the administrative burden becomes so overbearing at times. Yeah. But if this is one of those things that, you know, good common sense and people are probably kind of sort of doing anyway, that certainly, certainly sounds like the, the administrative burden is going to be more of reporting record keeping and probably just documenting things that people already do.

To make sure we understand what it is that they have to do. Unpack, you know, put, put this into buckets for us. What does this law mean? For businesses, who, who must, who, who must comply, are small businesses exempt, what are the things that they have, proactively have to do, etc.

Mary: So there's very few. Exemptions, if you and I had an organization and everybody worked remote, we will probably be exempt,

Mike: Okay.

Mary: um, I have not spoken to any of our clients that have been exempt.

Mike: Okay.

Mary: so I think it's a good practice. So, and we'll, we'll unpack each of these, but there's the written plan. And then there's, there's a whole piece where we have to make sure staff can comment on the plan and help us write it.

There's training requirements. So much like the anti harassment training that our California employers have to do. And there's a violent incident log. So we should all be used to as an employer or most employers filling out your OSHA logs. Uh, this is in addition to the other OSHA logs for injuries. This is for a violent incident, whether somebody was hurt or not.

And the fifth thing is there's a record keeping requirement as there is for every HR, uh, you know, regulation. You know, out there, there's always a record keeping and that that's to protect the company too. If you get audited,

Mike: Yeah, right. So some of the things in the back half of that list so violence, uh, uh, uh, incident log. I mean, that sounds like just having a good escalation process. You and I have done shows on that topic before, for like anti harassment uh, complaints and whatnot. Um, record keeping. That sounds like an obvious one.

I'm curious that the, the first thing you said was having a written plan. That sounds like an obvious requirement. I was very intrigued by number two, that you said about a comment period. When I think about, when I think about laws, I think legislative bodies, Uh, uh, you know, deliberating and saying, okay, here, or, or, or an executive, uh, branch, here's the new law.

And then they open it to a comment period to change the law. Does, is that to suggest that employers are going to be able to make up their own workplace violence plans and their employees get to have input? But take me through that.

Mary: I think it's more giving suggestions, right? So, if the employer has a huge warehouse, they may be missing 1. Um, Area of the warehouse that 1 of the employees makes a suggestion and says, hey, this part of the warehouse, we get a lot of deliveries. There's a lot of outside people, for example, coming into that area.

We could use extra lighting, or we could use a lock on that door. So the vendors can't walk right in whenever they want or somebody off the street. So, I, I actually think it's helpful. Listen, anytime we roll out any kind of policy, Mike, we want employees to have be engaged in it. And if they feel like they can, you know, give us suggestions to make that policy better.

I think that you're going to engage them better in the training and adhering to the policy. So I actually think it's good. any employer, you know, of, of. You know, more than 10 employees should have some safety policy, right? So we write handbooks all the time. This is definitely going a step, couple steps, beyond that, but everybody should have a safety policy.

And if I'd say you're more than 20 employees, you should have somebody in charge of that safety policy. A lot of times it's human resources. A lot of times it's the operations manager. Whomever it is, somebody should be in charge. So, for this policy, they're forcing. Mike is in charge of it. If you have comments, please go to Mike.

Mike is reviewing those suggestions, adding them to the policy or saying, you know, that's that's something that would be too costly, whatever the reason is that. That it can't close, but I kind of like that. They have the comment period because I think it's going to, uh, you know, increase the engagement from the staff.

Mike: So are there stepping back before comment period? So there has to be a plan, and by the way, Cal OSHA has put out a pretty good document. It's a three page summary. Certainly the law has more detail. We're going to include the link to this PDF in the show notes so everyone will have it. Um, are there requirements of what the plan must contain or cannot contain?

Mary: Yeah. So, uh, there is that a model policy and literally when we go through with clients. We just help them answer the questions. Some things that, you know, some are very simple. How many exits do you have? How many entrants? Are they locked? Are they not locked? You know, the obvious things. And then there's things that are maybe take a little thought process like, well, what have you done if somebody had a violent act?

Right? And that's where the HR hack comes in, right? Do you put them on a warning notice? Is it immediate termination? Do we consider that gross misconduct if you hit somebody at work? I would say yes, spoiler alert. Um, but there is some areas of the model plan that take some thought process. That's where you want some guidance.

Uh, and then there's other areas where it's, it's literally fill in the blank and they, it's really well done. Um, they actually give suggestions.

Mike: Okay. Okay. So there's a model template to follow. They provide questions to help ask and refine this. Uh, and then ultimately you publish your workplace violence prevention plan. Is that, is that right?

Mary: Perfect.

Mike: And this might be a stupid way to ask the question, but we're like, roughly how big and comprehensive is this thing?

Does it turn out to be, you know, 500 words, one sheet of paper? Is it a 10 page or a 20 page essay? What, what, what is the, what is the


Mary: just it's a 10 to 20 page. Um, this is the process that we go through. This is where you go. If there was violence, this is how you report it. These are some gestion suggestions on, uh, what would happen. You know, happen. Here's the person you go to, if you recognize or hear some, you know, we've had before this plan came into existence, we've had lots of employee relations issues.

I saw Joe was bringing his, his gun to work. I noticed that so and so was really speaking harshly to another person and threatening them. So it's not, it may. For, you know, some really smaller companies or family run where this has never been an issue. This might be like, wow, this is, this seems a little, uh, extreme, but it's also talking about, you know, outside people, right?

We hear it on the news all the time, Mike, unfortunately, right? The, the, you know, um. The couple who has a domestic violence issue and the one or the other of the partners comes into work and, you know, conducts an act of violence. I mean, I don't, it happens all the time. It's, I think, prudent to have a plan here that helps prevent it.

Helps employees feel safer at work.

Mike: So, Mary, is it safe to say when you say 10 to 20 pages, this is a, this is a meaty thing. It's not a small thing, but it's your estimation that the state of California Ocean Department has Put together a decent model and the questions to ask that should make this thing manifest itself pretty straightforward.

Is that, is that fair?

Mary: Yeah, it's, it's definitely manageable. It's definitely manageable and I, I'll tell our listeners some good news amongst this. Cal OSHA has come up very publicly and said, we do not have the auditors to go door to door to audit this. Doesn't mean we won't. Um, and if somebody in the workplace, you know, calls us and says, hey, I know there's supposed to be a violence protection plan.

My organization doesn't have it. I don't feel safe at work. You're getting audited and if there was a violent act. At your place of business, you're going to get audited. Again, I compare it to the anti harassment.

Mike: Yeah,

Mary: haven't seen a lot of audits on whether you're doing it, but if you have a claim and you haven't done that training, your fines quadruple themselves.

And this is the same exact situation.

Mike: So that makes sense. So the written plan, so, and I wrote down, so the five buckets you gave me, written plan, comment period, training, uh, an incident log and then record keeping. So the written plan, don't underestimate it. It's not a small thing. It's, it's, it's comprehensive 10 to 20 pages, but there's also a template that's kind of provided, a model, uh, that, that, uh, Kalish has provided

Mary: in the blank.

Mike: and fill the bank questions to, to, to help you along the way.

So, um, take it serious. It's comprehensive. Don't be also too intimidated by it. Right. How about this comment period, and maybe I'm going to, so I'm going to, I'm going to go into waters. I don't like to go with this call, depending where you sit politically, the word violence has taken on very different meanings.

Um, so there are some things that all of us clearly agree, uh, whether you lean left, you lean right, no matter how extreme is violence, you know, Hands on people, uh, uh, hitting people, guns. I mean, there, there are clear, clear things. There's also our words, violence, right? Does the law, how prescriptive does the law get around definition of what violence is and isn't?

Cause I, we, I'll just say it. I've said this many times. We do our very best on the show, not to be political. We just want to share the best information we can, legal opinion to help small businesses stay compliant and grow. So I don't care what people's opinions are, but I care very much Cal OSHA's position on this is so that employers can comply.


Mary: Well, I think there's, there's real and perceived danger, right? So, yeah, I can give you an example of a California client. We had that terminated somebody and we've all heard stories like this. Um, it was well known that he had guns and lots of them because he talked about it all the time. And he was terminated via phone because he worked remotely and he said, I'm on my way over.

Um, so. You know, that, that to me, some people may think that's perceived. Um, I, you know, instructed the employer to be safe. And to call the police,

Mike: Yeah.

Mary: luckily, nothing, nothing happened, but it's going to the plan. Like I said, is pretty simple. You fill in the blank, but I, I, I just think. We're trying to prevent any incidents and.

Yes, it's internal, but it's also, you know, external. There's a strange person sitting in their car for the past 3 hours in our parking lot. Right? So it's, it's clients, it's vendors, it's strangers, it's family members of of employees. And it's employees. So it, you know, there's a lot of people coming and going in a lot of businesses.

Forget about the restaurants and the retail, um, situation. You, you've got, you know, could be hundreds of people coming through the door every day. But even in a, even in an office, you know, in our office, you know, people are coming and going, right? The mailman's coming every day, the UPS guy. So. You know, we want to make sure we're

Mike: Food delivery. I mean,

Mary: Yes.


Mike: that, yeah, right.

Mary: So you want everybody to be safe. Um, and so there it's perceived, and there'll be questions for that. And then there's, there's real violence. Somebody actually hit somebody. Somebody's actually waving a gun, you know, real, real extreme pushing, hitting, uh, threatening words, like you said. So there, they will define it in the plan.

They do, I think, an. Excellent job. Very often you get regulations come out and we're like, we don't have enough information. This is pretty good. There's always going to be questions.

Mike: Yeah.


Mary: answer.

Mike: I, and I don't want to put words in your mouth. I just, I just know for a fact the title of this workforce violence prevention. It's gonna, it's gonna trigger some folks. That's why I wanted to dwell in this area for a second. I think, I think you hit it hard. The, the key here is prevention. So it's having policies that prevent Situations from escalating.

Uh, this is no, I don't think this anywhere nearly approaches anything, some freedom of speech. You could, you can't say scream fire in a crowded theater, right? Um, but if people feel threatened, this isn't about their feelings. This is what is your policy and procedure when people do feel threatened, whether that's somebody brandishing a gun, which is obvious violence.

Or you just feel threatened. So we can, we can be in the, in the area of feelings, which aren't quite as black and white, but the law says you must have a plan to deal with these things when they come up. Am I saying it right?

Mary: Yes. Yes. And I think that's fair, right? I think employees, they may know where to go to ask about their benefits and hopefully in California, you know, their policy is pretty clear on anti harassment. So if you feel like you're being discriminated against, you know who to go to. Who do I go to if I feel threatened?

If, if, you know, I feel like harm may come to me. This is what's going to provide that information to employees.

Mike: Yeah. Right. Right. Very good. All right. Um, what can you tell us now about the comment period? Like what's inbounds, what's out of bounds? How long of a period does it have to be? Does,

Mary: it's not as much a comment period, but. Employees must be told that they can give feedback on the policy and suggestions. So, it would be posting the policy, telling them that they can comment, ask questions, make suggestions, make sure it's clear where they can find the policy. So, you can make hard copies.

I don't think many Many individuals are doing that. You can put it on the internet. You can do both. So make sure that it's available for them to see. And then our next bucket, of course, is the training portion. You're going to go through your entire plan and you are going to ask again, Mike, and you're going to say, okay, everybody, I just explained the plan, our plan to you.

What questions Comments and suggestions do you have? And if you don't want to say them now, you'll go to and there'll be a designated, you know, person or two that they can go to a safety manager. Um, who you normally at most organizations has a second job, right? So a lot of times it's one of the foreman or the COO or the HR manager, right?

Um, you go to that end of it, you know, make sure the employees know who to go to, to make those suggestions, questions, comments.

Mike: Yeah, okay, great. Um, I'm assuming one day, probably won't take that long. That's where the, that's probably where the legal tests will come is, and I don't know if you have any insight into this or not, of how much of the employee feedback do you need to give. On face value, it just sounds smart. It's like, Hey, here's the plan.

Have we missed anything? And I loved your use case earlier. Hey, we got that one storage building out back. It's really dark. It'd be great if we could have some lights on there or after X o'clock, you know, nobody goes out there by themselves. Really, really practical, good stuff. If you open this up to employees to give their opinions, you're gonna get some ideas.

that probably aren't appropriate to be in a plan like this, where the, where the draw the cutoff there, I'd be curious for your coaching. I'm just going to assume there will be, this will be legally tested of what you can and can't and should or shouldn't include. But what, what, what, what would be your guidance for an employer who gets suggestions, That they would maybe would respectfully decline.

They're not, they're not harassing that employee. They're not discriminating against that employee, but they think it's inappropriate for a plan. How, how should you handle that?

Mary: Yeah, that's, that's a really good question because, you know, we do a lot of employee surveys and ask for feedback from employees for the employers we support. And I always say to the employers. First of all, you have to make sure that you want to hear the information. Here, we don't have the option, right, Mike?

But you have to be transparent. You can't have Mike Vinoy give a suggestion and let it, you know, evaporate into the ether and not get back to Mike and say, we gave it carefully. Careful consideration and, you know, uh, putting a deadbolt and 5 extra locks on that particular door, uh, did not make sense. You know, there's also safety issues, you know, in escaping, right?

So, you have to get back to that person, um, and let them know, why you didn't utilize their suggestion. And, and that's, that comes up a lot in work. I think, you know, a lot of companies have the good old, that used to have the suggestion box. Hopefully everybody has an online suggestion box, but you know, that is that typical, you have to finesse that conversation, but you should be transparent because they deserve to hear.

You know, uh, why or why not? Their suggestion was used.

Mike: And it's easy to say yes to people. It's harder to say no, but that's, those are grown up conversations that you're just going to have to have, right? Okay. Okay. Uh, so you got a written plan. You provide opportunity for comments from the employees. Um, now you have to train on this. Are there specifics around the training?


Mary: Yeah, this is thanks for asking. This is the 1 area. That's a little gray. And again, I'm going to I'm going to enliken it to the anti harassment training in California, because I can remember when it 1st came out and. There was a lot of interpretation that the training had to be done in person. So right now there is a lot of interpretation that this should be done in person so that you can go, the exits are over there, right?

It's a physical thing. Well, what about the organization? And we have lots of them that have 5, 10, 20, 50 locations, right? So you're going to do the training in 50 locations. So, you know, I've spoken to, you know, attorneys and some Cal OSHA experts. Uh, I do think that you're going to be able to do this live virtual.

I don't know that e training will work for this right now. So this is so new. Um, Mike, it's, it's due, you know, in 30 days or, you know, July 1st. Um, So I, I'm always, you know, I'm going to be conservative when I'm giving advice to our clients, and I'm going to say that I think live virtual is going to be your best.

Um, number 1, getting the comments from the employees. What are your questions? Could you do e training? And then at the end, have them acknowledge that they saw the policy, were given the vehicle to make comments and ask questions. You can do that, right? The instructions can't be that explicit. Um, But again, for my money, I think it's safest.

Number one, I do it in person. Number, and you're explaining your plan. Number two, the best, the second best would be live virtual, which just be like what you and I are doing so that employees can give us real time comments. And I think my last option would be. Uh, through an e training vehicle, but because it has to be interactive, they have to make those comments and be able to ask questions.

You would have to add some interactive questions as well as. An acknowledgement as well as, um, some information on how they can make 2 questions, et

Mike: And so while the governor has already indicated, hey, we don't have the resources to go inspect all this in, in, in, in and audit every, every firm. I feel like this is an easy one to, to not only comply, but go a little bit above and beyond. I mean, If you're going to train, how much extra effort is there to just get some type of, some form of acknowledgement?

The acknowledgement could be, I'm walking around with my phone. Hey, did you just take the test? I mean, when I get on an airplane with American Airlines, I got to give them a verbal yes, when they explain the exit row instructions, right? So, whether it's, you know, videotape it, which is maybe a little awkward, they sign something, they send an email.

There's a million ways to attest to this. Fair to say that the more you can document, just keep it simple, but the more you can document the better, right?

Mary: Right. I mean, that's the way I feel. Um, the training will requirement will be, um, even a little bit more onerous than the anti harassment because it's going to be every year. And there's also a mandate that if there was a violent act, or if something came to light, um, that was significant and you changed or modified the plan, there should be new training on that item.

Mike: Well it makes sense.

Mary: It

Mike: You are, you are unsuccessful preventing this type of, of an event, update the policy and train on that type of event, right?

Mary: Right,

Mike: Yeah. Okay. Um, okay. Anything, so you talked about the different methods that you can train. Ideally face to face people take a test at the end and prove that they learned it and then attest to it and you capture the whole thing on video.

That's the, that's the dream sequence. Um, but beyond that, we could do this virtually as long as you have a reasonable way to verify that the testing, the, the, the training happened and people have attested that they've taken that training, uh, you're on fairly solid ground. Let's move on to. Uh, something happens, or, and maybe it's not even something happens, I suspect you're gonna tell me.

This looks an awful lot like having a good anti-harassment reporting policy. Um, where you have, uh, it, it, it's what you, you called the violence incidents incident log.

May, may, maybe just explain what that means.

Mary: yeah, and this, this log is also going to come out of, uh, California OSHA. So, they, they are making it as easy as they can. You have to maintain a log of all the incidents of workplace violence, even if there was no injury, which I had said earlier, and it should include a lot of information.

What it shouldn't be. Include, but you'll have to keep a separate separate record is you're going to redact the names of individuals that were involved. They give you an option of 4 different types of workplace violence. You know, escalating and, you know, again, it's a fill in the blank. It's the date. It's the time.

It's the location. It's, you know, who committed the violence. So that would be outside vendor, uh, employee. What are the circumstances? So very similar to your 300 blog that you would keep as an employer for OSHA, but this is going to be more specific to violence, um, you know, who completed it and, um, you know, and I, I, I would suspect that this is what they're going to look at.

Right? So, if you only do 1 part of this. Um, and you don't do the other. It's probably not going to look good. Cause if you won't, if you only do the incident log and you have some instances of violence. Um, and you don't have a plan to prevent it, uh, that's not going to look

Mike: Yeah, right.


Mary: careful.

Mike: So California employers are used to an OSHA log. This is going to be similar. So fair to say, I guess maybe super tactical, is there, is there a format they must follow in creating their own log or is there literally like a, a coupon book or like a form that is an OSHA. Form that they would complete.

Mary: There's a form that they complete and, and look, usually, uh, an agency like this will say, you can do your own plan or follow ours. Our advice is always just use theirs. It's just so much easier. Um, streamlined, you know, it's going to meet the requirements. I don't know why you'd spend the extra time doing it.

Maybe there's some instances, but I honestly, we don't have employers that I would suggest doing something outside of this violence incident log.

Mike: I mean, even if you had great intentions of doing something above and beyond to make it just awesome, if there ever was an enforcement issue, they'll want, they'll understand, Oh, row three, column four, they just know where to look for stuff. They're going to be more comfortable, I would assume it would be to your benefit to use their forms just to make compliance easier and make it more likely for them to deem you as compliant.

Mary: Correct. Correct.

Mike: Yeah. All right. So the violence incident log, pretty straightforward. You're going to be using CalOSHA's forms for that. Maybe the last topic on, on record keeping, Mary. So what, what are the, what are the record keeping requirements? Okay.

Mary: Yeah, so there are some government forms, right, that you would, um, send in. Some place to show that you did it much like an EEO 1 report, right? But this, it stays within the workplace, right? So you're not sending certificates of training anywhere. You're not sending your. Your policy anywhere, so you need to keep good record keeping so that if you do get audited, number 1, if you do get any kind of legal action against you for this violence that occurred.

Right? And I just want to go back to some of the definition. Don't forget, this is going to include sexual assault, may fall under a violent act. Um, it's really popular for people to bring dogs into work. Um, and it is, you know, we have dealt with situations where, and I'm a dog lover, so I think it's, you know, fine, but we've had instances where the dogs that came into work have bit, you know, people in the workplace.

So. It would, it would involve all of, all of the above. Um, so the plan has to be kept in writing and always accessible to em, to employees. That's why you could post it on a bulletin board. Um, you know, we've done things like you put it on a ring and you laminate it so they can always look at it, you know, cause for a factory, the employees aren't using computers and put it on the internet, right?

So. Um, you always need it available. And we're going to keep each of the, um, plans and the logs that we had for five years. Um, that's important because a lot of HR things I feel are one or seven. So five years kind of threw me off a little bit. Uh, the training records must be created and maintained for a minimum of one year.

So that would be your certificate of training. Um, the And yeah, the logs I had said five years and, um, don't forget that we're not just going to take things for granted. Uh, somebody said, uh, so and so threatened me and we're going to create an incident log. We're going to investigate and so employers need to realize for all of these, there's going to be a non retaliation clause, meaning if Mike raises his hand and says, it's Uh, Mary's my boss, and I feel threatened by her.

This is what she said. Uh, we do the investigation. Whether or not we find that Mary was, in fact, um, threatening to Mike, Mary still can't retaliate against Mike. So whether I was guilty or not of threatening Mike, I still can't retaliate against him for making the claim. So that to me says, look, this doesn't mandate that managers have separate training than employees, but I always recommend that

Mike: Yeah, it's number 1 on Kalosh's list, right? The number 1 item on the plan, prohibiting employee retaliation.

Mary: yes. So, I think it's important for managers to have separate training. Look, you should also be telling the employees, there'll be no retaliation. Please bring all of your concerns forward. You don't want them to be scared to bring a concern forward. Forward, because then you're, you're going to hear about them too late.

Um, so you do make that part of your training for everybody, but I, I just like to to be uber conscious. A lot of times what we'll do is we'll do the training for everybody together. Employees. You know, questions? No? Okay. Managers, please stay. And then we reiterate some of the points, like no retaliation. If they bring a concern to you, it goes to the safety manager, HR, CEO, you give more than 1 person that they can go to.

Mike: Mary, is it possible, uh, I mean, you and I know very well, I mean, you, you, you're in the New York area, uh, you live, you're a New York resident, New York City area. Right. The laws always start in the coast and then slowly move to the middle. That's just generally how this goes, whether it's, whether it's music, fashion, art, or HR laws, that's just, that's how it generally happens.

Um, is it, and so California is already, they have to do mandated anti harassment training, sexual harassment training. Is it possible for employers to combine this, these policies, combine the training? I hear a lot of. I'm wondering, I hear a lot of, you say a lot of things that are specific OSHA forms, like an audit log, like an incident log on an OSHA form.

That feels very OSHA specific, but I also know that, you know, you and I have done shows talking about having a formal written anti harassment policy and Uh, an escalation process that's defined, including, uh, uh, no, uh, retaliation to employees. So on one hand, it feels like there's a lot of overlap, but also some very specific differences.

How much could employers combine these things and say, I'm going to just do one training. And then I cover both these things, or would you guide to separate training on two separate processes?

Mary: I mean, they could certainly do the training back to back. I wouldn't recommend it because they're, they're 2 separate issues and a, I think it would be a long time to pull staff, you know, off the floor and, you know, being an HCM company, I feel, you know, responsible enough to say that don't forget if you mandate training, Your, your, uh, you know, non exempt employees get paid for it.

So don't think it's unpaid time. It's paid time. So, to do a 2 hour training, and they each should be at least an hour

Mike: And you really answered the question when you said back to back, because I was talking about truly commingling the content, the policies, the processes. You're saying they need to be separate. So the guidance here is, okay, employer, don't think that you're going to add some paragraphs to your anti harassment policy and you're going to add a couple of bullet points to the training or a couple of slides to your training that you're doing for anti harassment.

These are two discrete things that must be treated separately, right?

Mary: 100 percent very, very different. It's just the process. This is the same because. In both examples, we want people to come forward, so we need to make them feel as though they're protected and won't be retaliated against because, let's face it, quite often when it comes to anti harassment, it is manager doing the harassing, so you can imagine an employee thinking, I'm going to lose my job if I complain about my manager, and the anti violence can be from a coworker that they're talking to.

physically afraid of, um, as well as a manager for sure. But, you know, you just, it's important to have those situations, you know, retaliation, uh, non retaliation, but you're going to investigate everything in, in, uh, in this type of situation, even if it was employee relations, right? Even if it wasn't violence or discrimination, you know, so and so just gave bad customer service.

We're going to investigate.

Mike: Yeah. Great.

Mary: percent of the time.

Mike: Mary, anything else that you want employers to know about the Cal OSHA workplace violence prevention law just passed by and signed into law by Governor Newsom?

Mary: I just wouldn't be nervous about it. Um, I would just go ahead, open it, look at our link, which is going to explain it, uh, and then pull up the policy and, and walk through it. It's relatively intuitive. Um, And I think Cal OSHA did a really good job on their website as having guidance and a lot of Q and A's for employers to look at.

So I wouldn't be nervous. I would just do it set aside 2, 3 hours and it'll be done. And then you got to schedule the training.

As soon as

Mike: that. That was my final question. Two, three hours. So, okay. Mary, very helpful. Um, I think if I can recap the punchline here. California law, Cal, enforced by California's OSHA department, um, agency, I should say, all employers, the only possible exception would be. Uh, employers who are 100 percent virtual.

There's not a workplace to prevent the violence in, but if you have any employees that report to a workplace, which is essential, almost everybody, uh, you, you, you've got to comply. You've got to have a written plan. The Catalogia has done a good job putting together a fill in the blank, uh, template for you to follow.

You've got to allow your employees to comment. And possibly augment that plan. You don't have to say yes, but you have to give them the opportunity. And the best advice here is to coach them, uh, in the difficult conversations. If you choose to say no, so that they feel heard and understand why their suggestion might not make the plan.

You've got to train on that plan. You've got to track any incidents in an, in an, uh, uh, uh, an OSHA provided form to, to create an incident log. And you've got to keep your records for five years. And this is completely separate than any other anti harassment training. This is a discrete law that you must follow.

The initial effort, two or three ish hours, excluding however much time it's going to take to train your employees annually. Did I, did I capture

Mary: You did a good job. You were doing good listening. It can be the written thing can be included in that injury illness prevention program that that California employers need to do and there, there may be some other exceptions. It would be hard to list every exception, but I wouldn't assume you're an exempt employer until you spoke with somebody that could give you good advice on it.

Mike: Yeah. Um, what should employers do if they have questions, especially if they think they have edge cases, not sure what to do?

Mary: I mean, they certainly can ask us, um, but Cal OSHA has a phone number you can call.

Mike: Okay. Okay.

Mary: Again, they did a good job

Mike: Okay.

Very good.

Mary: this out.

Mike: Mary, thank you for, thank you for taking us through it. It's, it's more complex, but also probably a lot simpler in some ways than I, that I thought of this when I, when I first saw it. So hopefully you made it simple for all the California employers listening or watching.

And to them, if you got value from this conversation, I encourage you to like, comment and share and certainly subscribe to Mission to Grow. Mary, as always, enjoy talking to you and thanks to everybody else for attending today.

Mary: Thanks, Mike.

Creators and Guests

Mike Vannoy
Mike Vannoy
Mike is a digital-first marketing executive with 25 years dedicated to helping HR companies thrive. As a board member of an AI software company and Chief Marketing Officer at Asure, he's been at the forefront of AI, HR compliance trends, and the changing demographics that shape today's marketplace. Under his leadership at Sales Engine Media, the company predominantly focused on the payroll, HR, and benefits industries, earning multiple spots on the Inc5000 list. Actively involved in multiple small businesses, Mike is a lifelong entrepreneur adept at navigating the changing workforce dynamics. He has held multiple executive roles at industry-leading HR firms, showcasing his expertise and leadership in the sector.
California OSHA: Workplace Violence Prevention Plan - Mission to Grow: A Small Business Guide to Cash, Compliance, and the War for Talent - Episode # 105
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