Shocking Workplace Violence Stats and Why AFGE Is Calling for Passage of Workplace Violence Prevention Bill

Categories: The Insider

Did you know? 

  • That each year 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence, which can range from threats to verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide? 
  • That there are 23,000-26,000 workplace assaults every year? 
  • That 70-74% of these assaults occur in healthcare and social service settings?

In the federal government, federal workers face similar workplace violence, mostly from the public they serve. A few examples include: 

  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, and Defense Health Agency employees have been attacked by psychiatric patients, patients with PTSD, or those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Inmates at correctional facilities who are often violent offenders attack officers.
  • The public going to a Social Security Administration office for benefits often in a time of crisis or need and who may be upset about not getting benefits or frustrated with the process take it out on the claims representatives.

AFGE is calling on the Senate to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195), which passed the House earlier this month.

If enacted, this legislation would require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a federal standard that directs health care and social service employers to implement a workplace violence prevention plan. The bill also would protect workers who report violence from retaliation. 

Some agencies may already have their workplace violence protection plans, but they are inadequate. The VA, for example, has workplace violence prevention programs but they are not integrated and not always followed at the facility level. A standard would ensure basic protections and require facilities to have specific programs as needed.

AFGE thanks leadership in the House for passing this measure and call on Senate leaders to bring this bill to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. We cannot afford to delay these critical protections for our health care and social service workers any longer.

As a union, AFGE has been a strong advocate of safe workplaces. In 2016, we were part of a coalition of labor unions that filed a petition for a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect healthcare and social assistance sector workers. 

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