July 24, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – A coalition of leading labor unions filed a petition July 12 asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create definite standards intended to prevent violence against health-care and social-service workers.
The unions, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, Teamsters, and United Steelworkers, told Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez that OSHA’s current efforts are “insufficient.” The agency’s current guidelines are voluntary. According to the petition, health-care and social-service workers experienced more than half of workplace violence in 2014, including 13 fatal assaults, and almost one out of every 25 psychiatric aides was injured in an assault. The petition asks OSHA to require employers to have written violence-prevention programs that include risk evaluation, response procedures, incident reporting and recordkeeping, and training. National Nurses United sent a similar petition to Perez and OSHA administrator David Michaels July 11, recommending that “every unit, service, and operation” should have a written prevention plan. “As things stand, nurses cannot keep their patients safe if they cannot guarantee their own personal safety, and it is past time for OSHA to mandate that health-care employers create comprehensive prevention plans to stop violence before it happens,” NNU health and safety director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement. Read more