Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Protect Health Care Professionals from Workplace Violence
Legislation creates standards requiring health care and social service employers to implement workplace violence prevention plan and protect employees from violent incidents
Washington, D.C. – In honor of National Nurses Week, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation to protect health care and social services employees from workplace violence.
“Caring for our health care professionals and social service workers can’t wait,” Wyden said. “They have been working long and difficult hours on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic while also being subjected to unacceptable violence in the workplace. Congress must stand with our frontline care workers by immediately passing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.”
“As the husband of a nurse, I’ve seen up close the sacrifices our health care professionals make day after day to provide exceptional care and comfort to our communities,” said Merkley. “Our health care and social service workers continuously show up to provide support, care, and assistance to those in need, and continue to remain on the front lines of this ongoing pandemic. Now more than ever, we must do everything we can to support and protect these professionals in their workplace. I’ll work closely with my colleagues in the Senate and do everything I can to swiftly get the long-overdue Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act signed into law.”
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act 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 their employees from violent incidents.
Incidents of violence against health care and social service workers are on the rise, with the pandemic only exacerbating the issue. Workers in the healthcare and social service industries experience the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence. A 2016 GAO study reported that rates of violence against health care workers are up to twelve times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70% of nonfatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the health care and social assistance sectors.
The Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care and Social Services Act would ensure that health care and social service workplaces adopt proven prevention techniques and are prepared to respond in the tragic event of a violent incident.
The bill was led by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tina Smith, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Christopher Coons, D-Del., and Bob Casey, D-Pa.
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act received support from a host of health care and social service professionals, as well as unions representing workers in these sectors, including National Nurses United (NNU), American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Government Employees, International Association of Fire Fighters, United Steelworkers (USW), and Public Citizen.
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