Department of State Hospitals (DSH)
Meet & Confer update


On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, SEIU Local 1000 met with the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to meet and confer over DSH’s application for a permanent exemption to the California Standards for Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcare, which mandates guidelines for reporting to the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) regarding workplace violence incidences. DSH is requesting a variance to report workplace violence incidences on a quarterly basis, as opposed to the 24-/72-hour period mandated through Cal/OSHA Title 8 Regulations, Subchapter 7, Section 3342 (g) currently.

Here is the background: On March 2, 2021, our Union was noticed by DSH of the Cal/OSHA’s hearing to make a determination on whether to grant DSH this permanent variance in workplace violence reporting. Member leaders from two of the five DSH institutions attended the Cal/OSHA hearing on March 11, 2021. The Cal/OSHA hearing resulted in the Hearing Officer granting DSH 60 days to submit more clarifying information. The Hearing Officer also opened up the 60 day period for interested parties to be able to submit a response. After the hearing, Local 1000’s member-led committee debriefed and decided to draft a response to inform Cal/OSHA’s decision.

The primary focus of the meeting with DSH on May 4th was to learn more from them as to why they are applying for this permanent variance in reporting, and to learn more about what is being reported to Cal/OSHA currently, through DSH’s temporary variance in reporting workplace violence. Our member-led committee decided after the meeting on May 4th to move forward by submitting a response letter to Cal/OSHA as originally intended, which has been done, well within the 60 day period designated at the March 11 Cal/OSHA hearing.

In summary, the Local 1000 response to Cal/OSHA recommends denying DSH the permanent variance based on the arguments laid forth in the March 11 hearing for the following reasons:

One – The Union disputes the claim that DSH needs more time to center the victim of workplace violence and needs more time in reporting to be able to do so. It is the experience of the members that when an employee is a victim of workplace violence, they are not fully supported and are asked to fill out forms with expediency, with little regard for what they may need.

Second – The Union disputes the claim that DSH needs more time to collect the information to meet the 24-/72-hour reporting deadline. It is not clear why DSH cannot currently meet the reporting requirements as they stand, considering most of the information needed to submit to Cal/OSHA is accessible within a 24- or 72-hour time frame, depending on the nature of the violence.

Third – The Union disputes the claim that DSH is partnering with the unions in the most collaborative and effective ways to best address workplace violence.

Please find a copy of our Union’s response letter here.

Every member needs to be aware that as soon as an incident of workplace violence occurs at your facility, there is a process that should be initiated immediately by your supervisor. It is imperative that even members who are witnesses to an incident engage in the incident debrief and help to document all relevant information to best understand how the incident took place. This information is vital to addressing issues and intervening to stop future violence.  

Our member leaders who work at DSH are the most knowledgeable regarding workplace violence to best inform policies and practices necessary to lessen violence long term. Our member-led committee is deeply concerned about the safety of all Union members. This table will remain open. The committee is continuing to meet with DSH to address barriers to collaborating on interventions to stop future workplace violence.

Please reach out to your job Stewards and your Union about any issues regarding workplace violence. We are available by contacting the Member Resource Center (MRC) at 866.471.SEIU (7348) between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.