Legislative Committee to Hold July 21 Hearing On Bill to Address Epidemic of Workplace Violence Against Health Workers
WHAT: The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, July 21, beginning at 1 p.m. for testimony on a bill (H1687) sponsored by Representative Michael Brady (D-Brockton) that will require health care providers to provide a comprehensive program to prevent what has become an epidemic of workplace violence against health care workers along with a counseling program for victims of violence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workplace violence affects an estimated 1.7 million employees in the U.S. annually and nurses and other personal care workers are at the highest risk. Health care workers suffer violent assaults at a rate nearly five times higher than the average worker in all other industries combined, and the rates are increasing. In 2013, 13 percent of the injuries and illnesses requiring health care and social assistance workers to miss workdays were the result of violence on the job - a rate five times greater than all other workers. In fact, nurses are assaulted at work on a par with police officers and prison guards. Yet most hospitals and health care employers in the state fail to adequately address the issue of workplace violence and very often provide little or no support to employees who are attacked on the job.
WHO: Testifying at the hearing will be recent victims of workplace violence, including an intensive care unit nurse at Brigham & Women’s Hospital who was assaulted with a knife by a patient’s family member, just three months after the tragic shooting death of a respected surgeon at the facility by a family member of a patient. This was one of a number of incidents reported by nurses at the Brigham following the shooting, and nurses will testify about the hospital’s failure, even after this tragic event, to work with the nurses to address a number of security concerns. Also testifying will be a nurse from the Worcester Recovery Center, where they had a shocking 425 assaults against staff by patients in 2014 alone, with 189 staff members forced out of work due to violence related injuries, resulting in more than 5,600 lost work days over a two year period. As with the Brigham situation, management has refused to work with the nurses to address security concerns and to put in place policies and procedures needed to prevent this violence. This bill will force all employers to work with frontline staff to implement specific policies and procedures to protect employees, and for those assaulted, to provide the support they need to recover.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 21 at 1 p.m.
WHERE: State House, Gardner Auditorium
CONTACT: Jennifer Johnson, 781-363-3681 (For more information, background on bill, or to schedule interviews).