Federal Bill Would Aim to Keep Health Care and Social Service Workers Safe While on the Job
In response to the growing number of acts of violence against health care and social service workers, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut recently introduced a bill that would require the Labor Department to implement a workplace violence prevention program with the workers’ safety in mind.
The proposed legislation cites numerous studies of workplace violence committed against health care and social service workers. A 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the number of assaults suffered by those in the health care and social services fields and required days off from work was five times higher than that of all other professions combined. For hospital workers, the estimated rate for injuries that resulted in missing work was 14.7 per 10,000 workers; for nursing and residential care workers, it was much higher at 35.3 per 10,000 workers. Meanwhile, the estimated injury rates for workers in all other fields was only 2.8 per 10,000.
These injuries came from hitting, kicking and beating, according to the report. In 1996, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued voluntary guidelines to employers on addressing prevention of workplace violence; these guidelines were revised in 2004 and again in 2015, but the agency never required them to enforce the program. Congressman Courtney’s bill seeks to fix that.
The bill also cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that 69% of all workplace injuries in 2016 were suffered by health care and social service workers; further, from 2006 to 2016, workplace violence injury rates in both industries increased by 63% (the BLS says that the number of injuries may be higher but are often underreported). It also included a survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians, almost half (47%) of emergency room doctors have been physically assaulted, with 80% of those attacked stating the injuries sustained affected patient care.
“We expect health care and social service employees to care for us in our times of need, but we know that each year, these men and women are faced with rising rates of violence, often from patients and their families,” Rep. Courtney said in a statement. “This legislation compels OSHA to do what employees, safety experts, and Members of Congress have been calling for years — create an enforceable standard to ensure that employers are taking these risks seriously, and creating safe workplaces that their employees deserve.”
It is imperative that your employment should not be compromised by a lack of safety protocols provided by your employer. If you have been injured or assaulted while on the job, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Rinaldo Law Group are skilled personal injury lawyers who will fight for the compensation you deserve. Please contact us today at 908-352-2500 to schedule a free initial consultation.