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In California, there’s an important new law in the works that could change how employers keep their workers safe from violence. This law, called Senate Bill 553 (SB 553), is almost ready to become a reality. It’s just one vote away from becoming official, and this comes as people worry more about keeping workers safe.

So far, SB 553 has been approved by the state’s upper house. Now, it’s about to go through one more important step in the State Assembly before it can become a law. If it passes this step and the Governor, Gavin Newsom, gives it the green light, it will become a law on July 1 of the next year.

The main goal of SB 553 is to make employers take action when their workers might face violence. This means making sure workers get good training to prevent violence and keeping a record of any violent incidents that happen at work. Employers will also have to make sure that their employees follow safe and healthy work rules, and they might have to take steps like giving warnings or punishments if they don’t.

This law will also allow employers to ask for temporary orders to keep violent people away from their workplaces. And starting in January 2025, labor unions will also be able to ask for these orders to protect their members, even if the members’ names aren’t mentioned in the request.

While there are already rules in California to protect healthcare workers from violence, SB 553 wants to extend these rules to almost all workplaces where employees deal with customers.

The reason behind this law goes back to a really sad event: the mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in May 2021, where nine rail workers lost their lives. State Senator Dave Cortese, who first introduced the law, said it was because of this terrible event. He said, “I went to the place where it happened that day, met with the families of the victims, and promised I would do everything I can to help workers prepare for senseless violence.”

Recently, SB 553 got a big boost when the California Chamber of Commerce decided not to oppose it anymore. They changed their minds because the law was updated to not apply to businesses with fewer than 10 employees, and now they’re neutral about it.

SB 553 is a response to a growing problem: more violence happening to workers in California, especially in stores. A really shocking example from 2021 was when a worker at a Rite Aid store was shot and killed while trying to stop a shoplifter.

This rise in violent incidents is part of a bigger trend where crimes in stores are happening more often, are more organized, and hurt both the stores and shoppers. Experts say that one reason for this is more people shopping online because of COVID-19. Criminal groups are now stealing more valuable things, and this is costing American stores a lot of money.

In cities like San Francisco, there’s been a big increase in shoplifting, and because of that, many big stores have closed. Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Nordstrom are some of the stores that have shut down in the city.

To deal with this, many stores tell their workers not to get involved physically when they see someone stealing. They’re worried about the safety of their workers. Companies like Lululemon have strict rules against their workers confronting thieves, putting safety first.

As SB 553 gets closer to becoming a law, its aim is to make workplaces safer for all workers in California and to address the growing worry about violence at work.