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House Passes Bill to Protect Healthcare and Social Service Workers From Violence

Apr 16, 2021
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed HR 1195, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, by a margin of 254-166. The bill aims to curb the rising rates of workplace violence facing healthcare and social service employees such as nurses, emergency responders, medical assistants, physicians and social workers.

ASSP recently reaffirmed its support of the legislation, which would require OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers within the healthcare and social services industries to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

The passage in the House is a culmination of an eight-year effort by Representative Joe Courtney. In 2013, Courtney asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study trends of workplace violence in the healthcare sector and identify options for OSHA to curtail it. The 2016 GAO study found that rates of violence against healthcare workers were 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70% of nonfatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the healthcare and social assistance sectors. A 2020 survey of registered nurses conducted by National Nurses United found that 20% of registered nurses reported increased workplace violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Healthcare and social workers have been waiting for years to have their safety taken seriously while they’re working hard to ensure everyone else’s,” Courtney says. “Passage of our bill is an important step forward in this effort to curb workplace violence, but it can’t be the last." He plans to bring together supporters next week to to talk more about the need for the legislation and called on his colleagues in the Senate to follow the House's lead and move the legislation forward for President Biden's signature.


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