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Workplace Violence Legislation Moves Forward

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   November 21, 2019

A bill to improve the safety of healthcare workers is passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Workplace violence against healthcare workers is an issue that's getting well-deserved attention.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports 50% of workplace assault victims are employed in the healthcare industry, and between 2002 to 2013 serious workplace violence incidents were four times more likely to occur to a healthcare worker compared to all other workers in the United States.

Now the safety of healthcare workers is being addressed through legislation. On Nov. 11, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act of 2019. The bill, 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. H.R. 1309 directs the Secretary of Labor to require these employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker-driven and comprehensive.

The Emergency Nurses Association backed the bill.  

House passage of the workplace violence prevention act is a major victory for emergency nurses and all health care providers. 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 President Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN, says in a news release.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

ENA supports legislation to address workplace violence in healthcare. During its annual Day on the Hill event in May 2019, nearly 175 ENA members about the issue during meetings with members of Congress.

Additionally, the ENA and the American College of Emergency Physicians recently 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, and by generating action among stakeholders and policymakers to ensure a violence-free workplace for emergency nurses and physicians.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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