Effective April 1, 2018, California became the first state to require all acute-care hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities to develop and implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans. This mandate is intended to protect hospital employees from workplace violence caused by patients and/or family members.
Under the new law, affected employers in the health care industry must prepare a workplace violence prevention plan that includes:
- Annual personnel education and training regarding workplace violence;
- A system for responding to and investigating violent or potentially violent incidents; and
- Procedures for annual assessment and evaluation of factors that could help to prevent workplace violence.
Employers must provide annual education and training to all employees at their facility who administer direct patient care, including physicians and temporary employees. This training must include, but not be limited to, information regarding:
- Identifying potentially harmful and violent situations and appropriate responses thereto;
- Reporting violent incidents to law enforcement officials; and
- Resources available to employees coping with the aftermath of a violent incident, such as critical incident stress debriefing and/or employee assistance programs.
Employers’ annual assessment identifying the factors that could possibly minimize the number of incidents of workplace violence should include a review of staffing and staffing patterns; the sufficiency of security systems at the facility; job design, equipment, and facilities; and areas of high security risk including entry and exit points for employees during late-night and early-morning shifts and employee parking lot safety.
Additionally, employers must develop the workplace prevention plans with input from their employees and any applicable collective bargaining agents. Employers are also expressly prohibited from taking punitive or retaliatory action against employees for reporting violent incidents.