By Brent I. ClarkMark A. Lies, II, and Meagan Newman

shutterstock_171692768A draft proposed regulation from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) would require health-care employers, home health and hospice providers and emergency responders to develop workplace violence-prevention plans, train their employees and keep records related to workplace violence incidents.

The draft also calls on hospitals to report violent incidents that result in an injury, involve the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, or present an urgent or emergent threat to the welfare, health or safety within 24 hours and all incidents would need to be reported within 72 hours.  Based upon the proposal’s definition “reportable workplace violence incident” employers would be required to report incidents that do not result in an injury if there was a high likelihood of resulting in injury, psychological trauma, or stress, or involved the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon.

The proposal would further require employers to take immediate corrective action where a hazard is imminent and take measures to protect employees from identified serious workplace violence hazards within seven days of the discovery of the hazard. Additionally, employers would be required to maintain a “Violent Incident Log.”

This proposal follows the enactment of SB 1299, requiring Cal/OSHA to have a workplace violence prevention regulation for healthcare workers promulgated by July 1, 2016. Yet, California is not alone. The proposed regulation comes as emphasis on workplace violence increases in both federal and state plan OSHA jurisdictions.  Even in the absence of a federal OSHA regulation, inspection and enforcement activity concerning alleged workplace violence hazards is on the rise.

Employers in California and elsewhere should take care to evaluate their workplaces for potential workplace violence hazards and institute–and enforce–policies concerning training and reporting.  The absence of a current regulation will not prevent administrative enforcement action in the event of a workplace violence incident or related civil liability.