RM, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.


Legislation that would require employers to have a prevention plan for workplace violence has moved forward after being marked up in committee.

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1309), sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), was voted out of the House Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday.

Workplaces covered under the bill include skilled nursing facilities, hospice, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, group homes and federal healthcare facilities, including those run by the Veterans Administration.

Minimum requirements for the employers’ workplace violence prevention plans include staffing for patient care, unit-specific assessments, record-keeping and more.

Nurses who spoke in support of the legislation noted that violence can happen in any healthcare environment.

“Sometimes people think violence only happens in the ER or a psych unit, but I am a medical surgical nurse; it happens in all units,” said registered nurse Elaine Sherman, who was assaulted by a patient’s family members while helping a fellow RN, who was also being attacked. “I was punched in the face seven or eight times. I didn’t take a day off because my patients needed me, but it was very difficult.”

OSHA currently has a voluntary guideline program, which committee chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) said is not working.

“The rates of serious injuries to our nation’s caregivers from workplace violence are rising nearly every year,” he said Tuesday.

American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing’s CEO Tracey Moorhead said last fall that workplace violence is a “serious and growing concern for healthcare workers at all professional levels and across care settings.”