Health care workers experience some of the highest rates of workplace violence of any occupation, with rates between five and 12 times higher than the average worker, according to a 2016 study by the Government Accountability Office.
Newly introduced legislation, spearheaded by Congressmen Joe Courtney of Connecticut, aims to remedy this.
“This legislation compels OSHA to do what employees, safety experts, and members of Congress have been calling for,” said Courtney, “create an enforceable standard to ensure that employers are taking these risks seriously, and creating safe workplaces that their employees deserve.”
Courtney introduced the bill, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, on Nov. 16, with some 20 Democratic co-sponsors.
It directs OSHA to issue an enforceable standard requiring employers to write and implement violence prevention plans and protect workers from violent incidents.
“Recent patient violence against staff at my hospital has led to nurses with broken jaws, open facial wounds, back injuries requiring surgery, and injuries from a chair being smashed over a nurse’s head,” said Local 4-200 President Judy Danella in support of the bill. “Injuries from combative patients shouldn’t just be part of the job. Health care workers need strong protections so they can provide quality patient care without fear of violence and injury.”
This session of Congress expires at the end of the year, but Courtney and other Democrats will likely reintroduce the bill next year.
Democrats will then hold the majority of seats in the House, so the bill could get real traction, making violence against health care workers part of the national discussion.
To read Rep. Courtney’s press release on the proposed bill, click here.