Between 2011 and 2013, 70 to 74 percent of the roughly 25,000 annual workplace assaults occurred in healthcare and social service settings.
The House passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act on Nov. 21, with the aim of protecting health care and social service workers.
The bipartisan legislation would force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an enforceable federal standard requiring health care and social service employers to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to protect employees from violent incidents and assaults at work.
Those employers would also be required to investigate workplace violence incidents, risks, or hazards as soon as is feasible; provide training and education to employees who might be exposed to workplace violence; and meet record keeping requirements. The legislation also bans acts of discrimination or retaliation against employees for reporting incidents of workplace violence or threats.
The issue of workplace violence against healthcare and social workers has existed for years. Between 2011 and 2013, 70 to 74 percent of the roughly 25,000 annual workplace assaults across all industries occurred in healthcare and social service settings, according to OSHA.
Passage of the bill was praised by leaders in the healthcare industry.
“We applaud Congressional leaders for moving forward legislation to create enforceable standards to finally make workplace safety a priority,” said Debbie White, RN and President of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, AFT/AFL-CIO. “No longer can we accept that violence is “just part of the job.” Workplace violence is a daily reality and prevention is only possible when systems are put into place to reduce the risk.”
If the bill passes the Republican-controlled Senate — which is far from certain given the Senate’s growing identity as a ‘legislative graveyard’ — it would compel OSHA to issue employers an interim standard for their violence prevention plans within one year, and a final standard required within 42 months.