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AFT Weingarten: Legislation needed to Protect Healthcare Workers

March 4, 2019

By Joe Levine

Washington, DC — The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), would make nurses and healthcare workers safer in their workplaces.

The bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop protection measures and enforceable safety standards for people who work in front-line healthcare jobs. Those in this category are five times more likely to be assaulted at work than the rest of the labor force. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 80 percent of emergency medical workers experience violence during their careers. This includes  verbal assault and physical abuse.  Between 2007 and 2017, rates of violence in hospitals grew by 123 percent.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, “Our nurses and health industry workers care every day for the sick, the elderly and the mentally ill, yet they often feel unsafe or unprotected themselves from the assaults that occur in hospitals and other healthcare-related settings.”

“While OSHA has left these workers vulnerable,” she said, “incidents of workplace violence continue to rise, with 69 percent of reported cases occurring in healthcare settings. Thankfully, this bill addresses this increasing trend head-on, and it provides long-needed protections and specific and enforceable safety standards for people who work in front-line healthcare jobs.”

March 4, 2019

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