New Bill Aimed at Violence Prevention at Health Care Facilities

Source: Cathy Yeulet - 123RF

WashingtonSafety + Health reports that in an effort to help stem the rising rate of workplace violence against health care and social service workers, legislation has been proposed that would direct OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers in those industries to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans.

The “Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act” (H.R. 1309), is the subject of a Feb. 27 hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

The legislation calls on OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers in the health care and social services industries to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans to protect employees such as nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders, and other caregivers.

The bill has subsequently picked up an additional 16 co-sponsors for a total of 42.

The rate of violence against health care workers is up to 12 times higher than those of the overall workforce, according to a 2016 Government Accountability Office study.

In November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that employers reported 2.8 million work-related injuries in 2017.

Additionally, in 2016, 70 percent of nonfatal workplace assaults occurred in the health care and social assistance sectors.

Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, a union of health care professionals, educators and public employees, said: “While OSHA has left these workers vulnerable, incidents of workplace violence continue to rise, with 69 percent of reported cases occurring in health care-related settings.”

The AFL-CIO has introduced an online petition in support of H.R. 1309.