Workplace violence Legislation Health care/social assistance Health Care Workers

House passes Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act

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Washington — The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act now moves to the Senate after passing in the House by a 254-166 vote April 16, with 38 Republicans voting in support.

The bill (H.R. 1195), reintroduced Feb. 22 by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), would direct 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 nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and others.

According to Courtney’s office, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workers in health care and social service professions are five times more likely to suffer a serious injury related to workplace violence than those in other professions.

“These workers are facing a disturbing level of violence,” Courtney said in a press release. “It’s happening in every congressional district across the country. They shouldn’t have to fear for their own lives while they’re at work trying to save ours.”

Previously introduced as H.R. 1309 in February 2019, the legislation passed the House by a 251-158 vote Nov. 21, 2019, but never came up for a vote in the Senate.

In his remarks made on the House floor before the vote, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the Education and Labor Committee and one of the bill’s 145 co-sponsors, urged his fellow legislators not to wait any longer to pass the bill.

 

“Over the past year, we have voiced exceptional praise for health care and social service workers, who have risked their lives to care for ourselves and our loved ones,” Scott said. “Yet, for too long, we have failed to address the high and growing rates of workplace violence for these workers, who are regularly beaten, kicked, punched and sometimes even killed on the job.”

National Nurses United and the AFL-CIO are among the labor unions that have voiced their approval of the bill’s passage in the House.

“This is groundbreaking legislation that will hold health care and social service employers accountable for the safety of their workers,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement.

In a separate statement, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler added: “Workplace violence is not ‘just part of the job.’ It is a worsening problem, but it is preventable.”

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