House Of Representatives Passes Workplace Violence Bill

The legislation protects healthcare workers by requiring employers to implement comprehensive, worker-driven workplace violence prevention plans.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives made a definitive statement of support for the safety of healthcare workers when it voted to approve the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act of 2019. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

healthcare workers
(Photo: Getty Images)

The epidemic of workplace attacks on emergency nurses, and healthcare workers in general, is borne out in statistics from OSHA that show 50 percent of workplace assault victims are employed in the healthcare sector. OSHA further noted that between 2002-13, serious workplace violence incidents were four times more likely to occur to a healthcare worker compared to all other workers in the United States.

H.R. 1309, which passed by a 251-158 vote, ensures that healthcare and social service employers, including hospitals, take specific steps to prevent workplace violence and ensure the safety of patients and workers. This legislation directs the Secretary of Labor, through OSHA, to require these employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker driven and comprehensive.

“House passage of the workplace violence prevention act is a major victory for emergency nurses and all healthcare providers,” said Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) President Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN. “Today’s vote puts us all one step closer to a safer work environment and, ultimately, peace of mind that we can care for our patients knowing that our facility has taken the proper measures to protect us.”

ENA has long been a vocal supporter of legislation focused on curbing the epidemic of workplace violence in healthcare, and particularly in the emergency department. In May during its annual Day on the Hill event, nearly 175 ENA members spoke to the issue during meetings with members of Congress and their staffers.

Recently, ENA and the American College of Emergency Physicians launched the “No Silence on ED Violence” campaign – a collaborative effort that aims to support, empower, and protect those working in emergency departments by raising awareness of the serious dangers emergency health providers face every day, and by generating action among stakeholders and policymakers to ensure a violence-free workplace for emergency nurses and physicians.

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