Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives calls for SNFs, hospices, hospitals, others to have a comprehensive plan to prevent, address workplace violence.
Legislation that would mandate that employers have a prevention plan for workplace violence took a step closer to becoming law this week. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) was voted out of the House Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday. The bill requires the U.S. Department of Labor to promulgate an occupational safety and health standard that requires certain employers in the healthcare and social services sectors, including skilled nursing facilities, hospices, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, group homes, and federal healthcare facilities (such as Veterans Administration facilities), to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for protecting healthcare workers, social service workers, and other personnel from workplace violence.
In addition, these employers must:
· Investigate workplace violence incidents, risks, or hazards as soon as practicable.
· Provide training and education to employees who may be exposed to workplace violence hazards and risks.
· Meet record keeping requirements.
· Prohibit acts of discrimination or retaliation against employees for reporting workplace violence incidents, threats, or concerns.
“The number of violent attacks against healthcare and social service workers, some of the very people we depend on most when we’re in need, is unconscionable,” said Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), the bill’s sponsor. He added, “The reality is that these professions face a disproportionate amount of violence on the job as compared to the rest of the workforce, and data shows that incidents of violence at work against these folks are happening more and more frequently.” He further noted, “The primary source of this violence comes in the form of assaults: kicking, hitting, spitting, verbal threats from patients, residents, and clients, or those who accompany them.” This, he said, affects workers’ sense of safety at work, contributes to burnout, high worker’s compensation costs and stress, and traumatizes the patients and other staff who witness these events.
According to a 2016 Government Accounting Office study, rates of violence against healthcare workers are as much as 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70% of nonfatal workplace violence in 2016 occurred among these individuals. Elsewhere, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found a sharp increase in service injuries resulting from workplace violence among healthcare workers. By ensuring that healthcare and social services workplaces adopt proven prevention techniques, H.R. 1309 is designed to help prepare leaders and front-line employees alike be prepared to respond promptly if a violent incident is threatened or occurs.
Next, H.R. 1309 will be scheduled for a final vote by the full House of Representatives.