On April 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195). This landmark legislation would require the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a national standard for health care employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan based on guidelines published by OSHA in 2015.
This legislation passed the House with broad bipartisan support on a 254-166 vote and now moves to the Senate for approval. If passed by the Senate, which is considered likely, this bill would then be sent to President Biden to be signed into law. This legislation is an incredible moment for health care workers who have long faced threats of violence on the job. It also places a significant new burden on health care employers.
Health care employees encounter the most on-the-job violence of any sector. A 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that health care and social service industries are five times as likely to endure workplace violence injuries compared to workers overall. And the pandemic has only escalated the issue. According to a study conducted by the largest registered nurses union, 20 percent of RN respondents reported an increase in workplace violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If this legislation becomes law, employers will be required to develop comprehensive, organization-specific processes and strategies to prevent violence from occurring in the workplace.
The law would include a variety of sectors and organization types including hospitals, residential treatment centers, social services, correctional or detention facilities, substance use disorder treatment centers as well as federal settings including the Veterans Administration and Indian Health Service organizations.
The consequences are far-reaching and require the creation of prevention policies, environmental changes, security requirements, training, record-keeping updates and protections for incident reporters.
Even if this legislation does not become law in this session, it is likely that with bipartisan support, it will eventually become a law or a guiding principle for employers.
Employers should take note of this impending change and start work now on a program to help meet this potential requirement. Even more importantly, this work will help prevent their employees from injury and harm.
Clinical Security Solutions can help any sized organization meet this standard with our customized training curriculum, policy review and analysis, and comprehensive threat management services, including Virtual Threat Manager® — a 24/7 on-call program with a Certified Threat Manager. We have also pioneered recovery and re-integration efforts for victims of workplace violence through our Critical Incident Aftercare Program.
What Might it Include?
OSHA 2015 Guidelines Require:
> Management commitment and employee participation
> Worksite analysis/tracking and trending
> Hazard prevention and control
> Safety and health training
> Recordkeeping and program evaluation