By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD
Introduced to the House of Representatives in February and approved last week, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) has taken another important step toward addressing the unacceptable level of workplace violence experienced by health care and social service providers while on the job.
The Act is a welcome acknowledgement of the serious concerns raised by professional organizations such as the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). According to surveys conducted by these organizations, nearly 70 percent of emergency nurses and almost half of emergency physicians have experienced workplace violence. Therefore, these professionals have been sounding the alarm on the epidemic of violence in emergency departments with public campaigns such as the 2018 social media movement, #RaiseYourHand and the 2019 No Silence on ED Violence campaign. Each with the overall mission to protect healthcare workers and build an awareness around the crises of workplace violence; particularly within the context of the emergency department.
If signed into law, the bipartisan legislation would lead to the development of Federal standards ensuring that health care and social service employers develop and implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans in order to protect their staff. Important elements of a workplace violence prevention plan would include:
- Procedures for risk assessment and identification of workplace violence risks and hazards to exposed employees.
- Procedures for hazard prevention, engineering controls or work practice controls to correct hazards (ex. security and alarm systems, exit routes and barrier protections).
- Procedures for reporting, incident response, and post-incident investigation.
- Procedures for communicating with and training covered employees on hazards, threats, and work practice controls, as well as responding to and reporting workplace violence threats, incidents or concerns.
To date, a companion bill has not been introduced in the Senate. Campanella Law Office will continue to follow the progress of H.R. 1195 and post updates as necessary. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the Act, or if you need assistance or guidance as to workplace violence and the prevention of same, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.