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Congressman introduces legislation to reduce violence in health care

Bill directs OSHA to issue standard requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention plans

Posted February 26, 2019

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), a senior Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, recently introduced legislation intended to curb rising rates of workplace violence facing health care and social service employees such as nurses, physicians, emergency responders, medical assistants, and social workers.

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) directs OSHA to issue a standard requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and protect employees from violent incidents in the workplace. Front line employees in these settings interact with a range of patients, clients, and their families, often with little training or direction for how to prevent or handle interactions that become violent.

A 2016 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that rates of violence against health care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70 percent of nonfatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the health care and social assistance sectors. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found a sharp increase in serious injuries as a result of workplace violence among health care workers last year.

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