RNs Testify on Violence in the Healthcare Setting


Workplace violence (WPV) is a recognized hazard in the healthcare industry. WPV is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve workers, clients, customers and visitors. WPV ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.

Workers in the healthcare and social assistance industry face extremely high rates of workplace violence. In 2014, 52 percent of all the incidents of workplace violence reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occurred against workers in the healthcare and social assistance industry. And the rates have been increasing; between 2005 and 2014, rates of workplace violence incidents have increased 110 percent in private industry hospitals.

Registered nurses who are members of National Nurses United (NNU) are testifying at a public stakeholder meeting convened by OSHA to allow interested parties to comment on the need for a standard to prevent workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance.

Members of NNU – from states around the country – are asking that OSHA promptly pass regulations to prevent workplace violence in healthcare settings.

In 2014, California nurses lobbied to pass the Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act, and regulations were ratified late last year to realize the law’s goals.  The act defines workplace violence broadly to encompass actual acts of violence, as well as the threat of violence, and requires employers to develop a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan emphasizing prevention, training, and worker participation.

Jan. 10, on his last day in office, Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels announced that OSHA will grant NNU’s petition for a standard to prevent workplace violence in healthcare settings.