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A bill that would compel the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a standard requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement workplace violence prevention plans was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., introduced H.R. 7141 — the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care and Social Services Act — in response to increasing rates of workplace violence against health care professionals, according to a statement issued on Friday.
“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.”
OSHA does not currently have a specific standard for workplace violence prevention, but the agency has utilized the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause to cite health care employers for not protecting their employees from violent workplace incidents and continues to do so under the Trump administration, according to workplace safety experts.
In January 2017, OSHA granted petitions by a coalition of labor unions to pursue a standard, but it was removed from the agency’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions before reappearing on the list in July.
The bill is endorsed by American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Federation of Government Employees, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Nurses United, United Steelworkers and Public Citizen, according to the statement.
“Workplace violence against health care and social service workers continues to affect those who dedicate their lives to caring for others,” Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and one of 21 Democratic co-sponsors of the legislation, said in the statement. “This bill helps address this growing problem by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to set an enforceable standard that will protect workers from preventable acts of workplace violence.”
PHILADELPHIA — Workplace violence against health care workers has caught the attention of federal and state safety regulators, particularly in California, which is requiring extensive incident reporting.