ENA-Supported Workplace Violence Bill Passed by House of Representatives
November 21, 2019 • Government Relations Legislation No Silence on ED Violence Workplace Violence
Legislation to protect health care workers receives bipartisan approval
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Nov. 21, 2019) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday made a definitive statement of support for the safety of health care workers when it voted to approve The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Services Act of 2019 – a bill strongly backed by the Emergency Nurses Association.
The epidemic of workplace attacks on emergency nurses, and health care workers in general, is borne out in statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that show 50 percent of workplace assault victims are employed in the health care sector. OSHA further noted that between 2002-13, serious workplace violence incidents were four times more likely to occur to a health care worker compared to all other workers in the United States.
H.R. 1309, which passed by a 251-158 vote, ensures that health care and social service employers, including hospitals, take specific steps to prevent workplace violence and ensure the safety of patients and workers. This legislation directs the Secretary of Labor, through OSHA, to require these employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans that are worker driven and comprehensive.
“House passage of the workplace violence prevention act is a major victory for emergency nurses and all health care providers. Today’s vote puts us all one step closer to a safer work environment and, ultimately, peace of mind that we can care for our patients knowing that our facility has taken the proper measures to protect us,” said ENA President Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN.
ENA praised the work of Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced H.R. 1309 earlier this year. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
ENA has long been a vocal supporter of legislation focused on curbing the epidemic of workplace violence in health care, and particularly in the emergency department. In May during its annual Day on the Hill event, nearly 175 ENA members spoke to the issue during meetings with members of Congress and their staffers.
Just this week, ENA and the American College of Emergency Physicians launched the “No Silence on ED Violence” campaign – a collaborative effort that aims to support, empower and protect those working in our nation’s emergency departments by raising awareness of the serious dangers emergency health providers face every day, and by generating action among stakeholders and policymakers to ensure a violence-free workplace for emergency nurses and physicians.