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By Sean McDevitt, Director of CEM Product Marketing at Everbridge

Senate Bill 553, commonly known as SB 553, is a pivotal piece of legislation in California aimed at preventing workplace violence and ensuring the safety of employees. In this blog post, we’ll delve into: 

  • What is Senate Bill 553 California? 
  • What are the requirements of a workplace prevention plan in California? 
  • Should you have a workplace prevention plan outside of California? 
  • How can Everbridge support your organization in complying with SB 553? 

What is SB 553 California?

Senate Bill 553, signed into law in California, mandates that employers take proactive measures to prevent workplace violence. It outlines specific requirements for developing and implementing comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans to safeguard employees from potential threats. It also mandates that businesses must begin complying with the law on July 1, 2024. 

What are the requirements of a workplace violence prevention plan in California?

Under SB 553, California employers must conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards and implement measures to mitigate them. These measures include establishing reporting procedures for incidents or threats of violence, providing employee training on recognizing and responding to workplace violence, and creating emergency response protocols. 

Should you have a workplace violence prevention plan outside of California?

While SB 553 applies specifically to California, workplace violence is a concern across the globe. Employers in other states and countries can benefit from adopting similar prevention plans to protect their employees and maintain a safe work environment. Discover actionable steps to prevent workplace violence here

How can Everbridge support your organization in complying with SB 553?

Everbridge provides a comprehensive suite of tools designed to enhance workplace violence prevention and response strategies. The Everbridge platform offers capabilities that align well with SB 553’s requirements for a workplace violence prevention plan. Here’s how Everbridge can specifically support your organization in complying with SB 553: 

  • Incident reporting and communication: Everbridge can facilitate real-time reporting and communication of workplace violence incidents. Our mass notification system allows for quick dissemination of alerts to employees, security, and management, ensuring rapid response to potential or actual violent situations. This capability supports SB 553’s requirement for a system to report incidents efficiently. 
  • Emergency response coordination: The platform can help coordinate emergency response efforts by centralizing communication and response tasks. In the event of a workplace violence incident, Everbridge can ensure that the right people are notified immediately and that coordinated actions are taken, in line with SB 553’s emphasis on preparedness and response to incidents. 
  • Training and drills: The Everbridge platform can be used to schedule, conduct, and document training sessions and drills related to workplace violence prevention. This aligns with SB 553’s mandate for employee training on the workplace violence prevention plan. Everbridge can track participation and ensure that all employees receive the necessary training. 
  • Documentation and record-keeping: For compliance purposes, maintaining accurate records of all training, incidents, and responses is critical. Everbridge can help organizations document these activities, making it easier to demonstrate compliance with SB 553’s record-keeping requirements. 
  • Risk assessment and mitigation: Everbridge provides tools for assessing threats and vulnerabilities, which can be integral to developing and updating an effective workplace violence prevention plan. By identifying potential risks and implementing mitigation strategies, organizations can adhere to SB 553’s requirement for a proactive approach to workplace violence. 
  • Employee involvement: Engaging employees in safety and prevention efforts is a key aspect of SB 553. The Everbridge platform allows for two-way communication, enabling employees to provide input, report concerns, and participate actively in maintaining a safe workplace environment. 
  • Customization for specific needs: Given that each workplace is unique, Everbridge offers customizable features that allow organizations to tailor their violence prevention plans to their specific needs, risks, and environments, which is in line with the individualized approach required by SB 553. 

By leveraging the capabilities of Everbridge, organizations can not only comply with the legal requirements of California SB 553 but also foster a safer, more secure workplace environment. It’s advisable for organizations to consult with Everbridge specialists or similar service providers to understand the specific features and services that can best meet their compliance and safety goals. 

Request a demo with us today to learn more about how we can help your organization. 

Ensuring the safety and security of employees has become paramount in today’s unpredictable world. The tragic rise in active shooter incidents in every US state serves as a stark reminder of the need for preparedness. As organizations strive to create safe environments, the importance of active shooter drills in the workplace cannot be overstated. However, this sensitive topic raises debates on effectiveness, trauma, and the appropriateness of such drills. In this guide, we will explore the essential components of conducting active shooter drills while taking into account the mental well-being of employees and the unique dynamics of each workplace. 

To gain insights from nearly 800 security leaders on active shooter preparedness and best practices, download the 2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report

Defining and understanding an active shooter threat 

An active shooter event refers to a situation where an individual engages in violent acts, typically using firearms, with the intent to harm and kill as many people as possible. The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area,” and they go on to say that “recent active shooter incidents have underscored the need for a coordinated response by law enforcement and others to save lives.” These incidents unfold with terrifying speed, demanding swift and informed responses to minimize harm and save lives. As unsettling as it may be, acknowledging the possibility of such a scenario and preparing for it is a responsible approach in today’s world. 

Should your organization run active shooter drills? 

The decision to conduct active shooter drills in the workplace is not without controversy. Some argue that the likelihood of such an event unfolding is low, leading to unnecessary stress and trauma for employees. This perspective contends that the focus should shift toward preventative measures and crisis communication readiness. 

While the likelihood of an actual active shooter event occurring in any given workplace may be statistically low, the potential consequences of not being prepared can be catastrophic. Therefore, organizations must carefully consider the need for drills as part of their broader safety and security strategy. 

One aspect to consider is the mental stress and trauma that active shooter drills can produce for employees. These drills often simulate real-life scenarios, which can be emotionally distressing for participants. However, this stress should be weighed against the potential benefits of preparedness. To address this concern, organizations can take a trauma-informed approach to drills, ensuring that employees are provided with support and resources to cope with any emotional impact. Moreover, the decision to conduct drills should be made with sensitivity, and employees should be educated about the purpose and goals of the drills to alleviate unnecessary anxiety. 

For organizations embracing a remote-first work model, the need for physical drills may appear less applicable. However, it’s essential to recognize that employees may still face potential risks while traveling or attending events, such as conferences and tradeshows. In such cases, training in crisis communication and preparedness remains crucial. Equipping employees with crisis communication apps, such as the Everbridge Mass Notification platform, can provide them with a lifeline to safety information and support, even in remote or off-site situations. While the debate around active shooter drills continues, a proactive approach to safety and preparedness, tailored to the organization’s unique circumstances, remains essential. 

A three-step guide to running effective active shooter drills in the workplace

If your organization chooses to run an active shooter drill, a comprehensive approach is key. Here are the three components to incorporate when running these drills. 

Develop a comprehensive response plan

This plan should be tailored to your specific organization, considering all security and safety considerations. Collaborate with security professionals and law enforcement to ensure that your plan aligns with best practices and accounts for the unique dynamics of your workplace. Include detailed procedures for different scenarios, such as lockdowns, evacuations, and communication protocols.  

Run a practice drill

Once your response plan is in place, it’s time to put it into action through a practice drill. These drills can range from tabletop exercises to full-scale simulations, depending on the resources and expertise available. Simulating a realistic active shooter situation is crucial for preparing employees to respond effectively and confidently during a crisis. Always start a drill by stating clearly ‘This is a drill’ to minimize confusion or concern. 

Review and debrief post-drill

After the drill concludes, it’s essential to conduct a thorough review and debriefing session. Assess what went well during the drill and identify areas that need improvement.  

  • Were communication channels effective?  
  • Were evacuation routes clearly marked and followed?  
  • Did employees understand their roles and responsibilities?  

In addition to the operational aspects, consider the emotional well-being of participants. Active shooter drills can be emotionally stressful, so provide support for stress, anxiety, and potential trauma. Regular debriefs should be part of your drill program, allowing you to fine-tune your response plan and improve preparedness over time.  

Tips to foster workplace safety 

Ensuring the safety of your workplace during an active shooter event requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some essential tips to keep your workplace safer in the face of this critical threat: 

Implement a comprehensive workplace safety program

The foundation of a secure workplace begins with a robust safety program. Such a program should encompass various safety measures, including active shooter preparedness. Regularly review and update your safety program to align with best practices and the evolving threat landscape. 

Educate all employees on “Run, Hide, Fight”

Every employee should be familiar with the “run, hide, fight” concept—an essential mental framework to navigate an active shooter situation. 

  • “Run” encourages individuals to escape the danger zone if it’s safe to do so. 
  • “Hide” means finding a secure hiding place and silencing devices. 
  • “Fight” should be a last resort, when there’s no other option, and it involves taking actions to incapacitate the shooter. 

Leverage emergency communication tools

Emergency communication tools play a pivotal role in keeping employees informed and safe during an active shooter event. Public warning systems can alert individuals in and around the workplace to potential threats, while mass notification platforms enable rapid dissemination of critical information. Having these tools in place ensures that communication remains uninterrupted, facilitating swift responses to evolving situations. 

Demonstrate your commitment to resilience

Everbridge offers a Best in ResilienceTM certification program that can benefit your organization by ensuring employees, assets, resources, and communities are better protected from any type of critical event such as active shooter situations, inclement weather, cyberattacks, and more. Becoming certified highlights an organization’s dedication to building resilience in the face of disaster and can help employees feel confident in their safety and security while at work.  

By incorporating these tips into your workplace safety strategy, you create an environment where preparedness and vigilance are paramount. While it’s impossible to predict when an active shooter event may occur, proactive measures empower employees to respond effectively and maximize their safety in a critical situation. If you’re ready to get started on making your workplace safer, here are eight actions you can take today. 

Navigating a complex landscape with preparedness 

In an era where workplace violence poses a real threat, organizations must navigate a complex landscape with preparedness and empathy. The decision to conduct active shooter drills should be well-informed, accounting for the psychological well-being of employees while striving to ensure their safety. While debates exist, the urgency of proactive measures cannot be understated. A comprehensive approach, ranging from meticulous planning to employee support, is key. By fostering a culture of preparedness and vigilance, organizations can create safer work environments that protect employees and empower them to respond effectively in the face of adversity.

To learn more, download the 2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report.  

In today’s fast-paced world, organizations face numerous challenges when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees during critical events. That’s where the integration of E911 and mass notification technologies can make a significant difference. In this blog, we will explore five compelling reasons why organizations should embrace the powerful combination of these emergency management solutions. By understanding the benefits of integrating E911 and mass notification systems, you’ll gain valuable insights into how these tools can enhance safety, increase productivity, ensure compliance, improve coordination, and enhance your organization’s reputation. 

Enhanced safety  

By integrating an E911 solution with mass notification, organizations can enhance employee safety by enabling on-site staff to immediately assist in emergencies and informing the proper stakeholders of emergency situations in real-time.   

By using the most accurate location of the caller, E911 routes emergency calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), enabling the quickest response possible from first responders and on-site staff. 

If someone were to dial 9-1-1 from the organization’s network, an integrated E911 and mass notification system with incident communications enables response teams to be deployed while security teams, administrative personnel, and office managers are alerted of the emergency in real-time. This not only expedites management but allows businesses to keep other employees safe should the emergency affect them as well.   

For example, if an individual dials 9-1-1 about a fire occurring in a multi-story office building, an E911 and mass notification integration:   

  • Provides emergency responders the exact location of the emergency caller  
  • Automatically alerts security teams to respond to the incident  
  • Notifies other on-site personnel so they are prepared to help responders quickly get to the scene  

If the situation impacts others in the building, organizations can use the same system to send alerts out to those in the building to tell them to evacuate.  To successfully enhance safety, leaders and security professionals also need to understand where their current gaps in emergency management lie. In our recent white paper, “From Chaos to Control,” we provide a checklist of the right questions to ask so leaders can easily determine where they need to focus their efforts.

With timely and effective communication, businesses can minimize disruption during emergencies and avoid downtime caused by ineffective response.  

Increased productivity   

According to a 2023 Total Economic Impact™ Study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Everbridge, recaptured employee productivity amounted to $861,000 over a three-year span with implementation of a mass notification solution like Everbridge. For security teams, the increased productivity totaled $607,500 annually*. 

The study showed a 25% reduction in downtime attributable to Everbridge solutions as a result of earlier alerts and faster response team communication.   

A Global Security Operations Manager featured in the study stated, “[We were] manually uploading employee addresses into online maps and then, as an incident occurred, teams were pushing the incident onto the map trying to figure out what the potential impact was. The process was very manual and tedious.”  

With an integrated E911 solution and mass notification system with incident communications, organizations can expand their real-time insights on potentially disruptive emergencies, giving them more time to avoid impact and protect employee productivity.   

Compliance  

Investing in E911 and mass notification with incident communications can help businesses comply with federal safety regulations, created by agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and protect them from potential legal liabilities.   

OSHA has developed safety standards that require employers with 10 or more employees to have a documented emergency action plan in the workplace, available for employees to review. Off-site or work-from-home employees are not exempt from federal laws regarding employee safety.   

With a mass notification system in place, organizations can have multiple emergency action plans ready for review and activation should a critical event occur. Managers can automatically send real-time alerts and instructions to groups and individuals during critical events and benefit from two-way communications to ensure all their people are out of harm’s way.  

Additionally, regulations are now in place that require the use of E911 technology:  

  • Kari’s Law requires direct dialing to 9-1-1 and automatic notification to front desk or security personnel.    
  • The RAY BAUM’s Act requires organizations to provide a “dispatchable location” of an emergency caller to the emergency call center or PSAP, which includes their detailed location information such as a street address, floor, apartment, or suite number.  

E911 solutions ensure organizations maintain compliance with both Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’s Act by finding emergency callers, routing their calls to the nearest emergency call centers, and notifying the appropriate security or administrative personnel. Most importantly, E911 helps companies protect their workforce, especially as mobile and work-from-home models become more common.   

Together, E911 technology and mass notification with incident communications systems ensure organizations remain 100% compliant with federally mandated regulations.

Improved coordination  

When E911 and mass notification solutions are paired together, organizations can reduce the time it takes to alert the proper individuals or groups about the existence of an emergency within their network. This allows for improved coordination and can provide extra time to better manage critical events.   

Take Santander as an example, the 16th largest banking institution in the world, which has over 400 branches across the Eastern U.S. alone. After implementing Everbridge Mass Notification, they reduced their time to notify employees by 100%. They saved 10-15 minutes for every alert and potentially up to 30 minutes for the entire notification lifecycle.   

With Everbridge E911 integrated with Mass Notification, organizations can automatically alert managers whenever an emergency call is made from the organization’s network in addition to risk events such as severe weather, IT disruptions, or physical security disturbances. This provides a holistic view of potential risk and enables teams to coordinate response more quickly, no matter the type of event they are managing.   

Improved reputation  

When organizations demonstrate an active commitment to employee safety and prioritize duty of care to employees, they can positively influence their reputation. Employees who feel protected and safe in their workplace are much more likely to remain with their company, which improves retention rates and helps overall brand image.  

To further improve retention rates, organizations must actively uphold their duty of care, not just discuss their commitment to the concept. This requires businesses and security professionals to prioritize effective emergency management and response to physical and digital threats that might impact their teams. Implementing an integrated approach to mass notification and E911 helps organizations more quickly identify emergencies and take the proper steps toward resolution to best protect their employees and make sure they feel safe and secure. 

Build more resilient operations  

The integration of E911 solutions and mass notification technologies is a crucial step for organizations looking to enhance their emergency management capabilities. By leveraging accurate location data and real-time communication channels, organizations can significantly improve employee safety during critical events. Furthermore, the integration of these tools boosts productivity by minimizing disruption and response time, ensuring business continuity. Compliance with federal safety regulations, such as Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’s Act, becomes seamless with E911 and mass notification systems. The improved coordination and faster response provided by these integrated solutions empower organizations to handle emergencies efficiently and mitigate potential risks. Lastly, by prioritizing employee safety and demonstrating a commitment to duty of care, organizations enhance their reputation and foster a positive work environment. 

In today’s unpredictable world, integrating emergency management tools is not just an option; it’s a necessity for organizations that value the well-being of their employees and strive for operational resilience.  

To learn more about the importance of integrated notification and response systems in emergency situations, we invite you to read our latest whitepaper, “From chaos to control: the importance of integrated notification and response systems in emergency situations.”  

Take the proactive step towards building resilience and gaining control during emergencies with Everbridge.  

*Study results were based on a composite organization comprised of interviewees with experience using the Critical Event Management (CEM) platform.  

Workplace violence is a significant concern that affects employee well-being and safety as well as the overall success of a business. According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workplace violence impacts over 37,000 US workers each year. This issue not only poses severe consequences for all employees but can introduce hefty costs for organizations. In addition, organizations must ensure they are compliant with all laws and regulations. As employers, it is crucial to prioritize the safety of employees and take proactive measures to prevent workplace violence and maintain operations.

Here are 9 practical strategies to ensure safe workplaces and reduce the risk of violence.

1. Create violence, harassment, and bullying prevention policies 

Establishing comprehensive policies addressing violence, harassment, and bullying is essential. These policies should clearly define unacceptable behavior, provide guidelines for reporting incidents, and outline disciplinary measures. By establishing a zero-tolerance approach and communicating it to all employees, organizations can foster a culture of respect and create a safer work environment. Regularly review and update these policies to ensure their effectiveness and alignment with evolving workplace dynamics. 

2. Implement training and awareness programs 

Training and awareness programs play a crucial role in preventing workplace violence. These programs should cover topics such as anti-bullying strategies, conflict resolution, mental health awareness, and the five types of violence (criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, domestic, and ideological). By educating employees on recognizing warning signs, managing conflicts, and promoting a culture of non-violence, organizations can empower individuals to respond effectively. Offer periodic refresher training sessions to reinforce these principles and provide employees with the tools to de-escalate potentially volatile situations. 

3. Establish clear reporting procedures 

Employees need to feel confident in reporting incidents without fear of retaliation. Employers should establish reporting mechanisms that ensure trust, confidentiality, anonymity, and a commitment to addressing concerns promptly. It is crucial to communicate these reporting procedures clearly to every employee, making them aware of the channels available and emphasizing that their safety is a top priority. Provide multiple avenues for reporting, such as anonymous hotlines or online reporting systems, to accommodate different preferences and comfort levels. 

4. Enhance site security measures 

Implementing security measures can significantly help prevent workplace violence. This includes visitor access management, video surveillance systems, security guards or patrols, entry systems (such as key cards or pins), and panic buttons. By having these measures in place, and integrating systems, organizations can deter potential threats and provide a sense of security to employees. Conduct regular assessments of security protocols to identify any vulnerabilities and make necessary improvements to ensure an effective security infrastructure. 

5. Perform regular risk assessments 

Regular risk assessments are vital for identifying potential areas of improvement. Assessments should evaluate training completion rates, adherence to policies, and any gaps in preventive measures. By conducting thorough risk assessments, organizations can proactively address vulnerabilities and take corrective actions to enhance safety protocols. Engage employees in the risk assessment process by soliciting their feedback and observations to gain valuable insights into potential risks and implement targeted interventions. 

6. Use communication channels to ensure employee safety 

In dangerous or life-threatening situations, effective communication channels are critical. Employers should utilize emergency communication tools and systems to disseminate timely information to employees. Emergency notification systems, mobile apps, or panic buttons can be employed to quickly alert and guide employees during crises, ensuring their safety. Conduct regular drills and simulations to familiarize employees with emergency procedures and test the efficiency of communication channels. 

7. Maintain a healthy workplace 

A healthy work environment contributes to overall employee well-being and reduces the likelihood of violence. Organizations should foster a professional and caring workplace culture that promotes open communication, work-life balance, and professional development opportunities. Implementing employee well-being programs and providing resources for mental health support can also contribute to a positive and safe work environment. For example, offering counseling services or promoting mental health awareness campaigns. Encourage open dialogue, establish employee assistance programs, and offer flexible work arrangements to support a healthy work-life balance. 

8. Conduct post-event analysis 

Following any workplace violence incident, a thorough post-event analysis is crucial. This analysis involves assessing the reasons behind the event, identifying any system failings, and determining what preventive measures can be implemented to prevent similar incidents. By learning from past experiences, organizations can adapt policies and prevention methods to strengthen their overall safety protocols. Involve employees in the analysis process by encouraging them to provide insights and suggestions for improvement. 

9. Comply with laws and regulations

Organizations must stay up-to-date and compliant with all new laws and regulations, such as Senate Bill 553. SB 553, signed into law in California, mandates that employers take proactive measures to prevent workplace violence. It outlines specific requirements for developing and implementing comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans to safeguard employees from potential threats. It also mandates that businesses must begin complying with the law on July 1, 2024. Learn more about how Everbridge can support your organization in complying with SB 553 here.

Build resilience against workplace violence  

Preventing workplace violence is an imperative responsibility for employers. By implementing preventive measures such as comprehensive policies, training programs, effective reporting systems, security measures, regular risk assessments, communication channels, and maintaining a healthy work environment, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of workplace violence.  

It is vital to continuously evaluate and improve preventive strategies to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of employees. Together, we can create workplaces where employees feel protected, respected, and can thrive without the fear of violence. By prioritizing safe environments, employers demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and create a foundation for a harmonious and productive workplace. 

For more specific information on active shooter preparedness, download this year’s, ”Active Shooter Preparedness Report”. Learn from over 800 organizations on this important topic and how to do better to keep your people safe and organizations running.  

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