Bill requiring hospitals to develop violence prevention plans clears US House

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that targets workplace violence in healthcare settings, including violence against nurses, emergency responders, medical assistants and physicians, according to The Hill and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act passed April 16 by a vote of 254-166. 

It directs the Labor Department to issue an interim occupational safety and health standard requiring healthcare and social service industry employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. The proposal calls for the interim final standard to be issued within one year based on guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social service workers published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2015.

"Healthcare and social workers have been waiting for years, long before COVID, to have their safety taken seriously while they're working hard to ensure everyone else's," Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., the bill's author, said in an April 16 news release, citing a 2016 Government Accountability Office study as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

"These workers are facing a disturbing level of violence; it's happening in every congressional district across the country, and they shouldn't have to fear for their own lives while they're at work trying to save ours," Mr. Courtney said in the news release.

Under the legislation, healthcare and social service employers would be required to train workers at risk of violence exposure and submit an annual summary of violent incidents to federal officials, according to The Hill

The bill is supported by the American Nurses Association and the Emergency Nurses Association, which say it would improve protection of workers, but the American Hospital Association opposes the bill, saying it does not believe the standards required by the bill are needed because of policies and programs already implemented at hospitals.


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