Workplace violence is something no one should ever be forced to endure, but sadly it’s become the third-leading cause of death on the job – and is a serious and growing problem for all workers in this country.
Each year there are more than 28,000 serious, lost-time injuries for workers on the job stemming from workplace violence, and in the last decade it’s grown by 69 percent in the health care and social assistance sectors. That’s why AFGE proudly supports H.R. 1309 and S. 851 – the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act – introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut and Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, respectively.
Introduced in February, H.R. 1309 already has 79 bipartisan co-sponsors, and S. 851, which was introduced in March, already has 9 co-sponsors. These bills will protect workers from violence on the job by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a workplace violence prevention standard. These bills would also require employers in the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a plan to protect their employees from workplace violence. Health care and social service workers experience the highest rate of serious injury due to workplace violence at 13.7 per 10,000 workers, compared with 2.9 for all workers.
If passed, employers will be required to work with employees and their representatives to create plans around workplace violence risks. And those plans must:
- Set forth procedures for reporting, responding to and investigating incidents and providing medical care or first aid to victims.
- Create and maintain a violent incident log.
- Investigate incidents as quickly as possible.
- Prohibit retaliation against employees who report violent incidents to an employer, local emergency services, law enforcement or government agency.
“Thank you so much to Congressman Courtney and Senator Baldwin for stepping up and putting forth legislation that will help keep violence out of the workplace,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act is needed for all workers, but we truly appreciate the additional protections and assistance for AFGE members at the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, and Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency.”
If you have a story about how workplace violence has impacted you, please click here and fill out the form. We need to hear from you about why this bill is needed so we can tell that story to Congress and get the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act passed soon!