ENA Expresses Support for ‘Important and Timely’ Workplace Violence Legislation
February 22, 2021 • Emergency Nurses Association Government Relations Legislation Workplace Violence
Association encourages action on Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Feb. 22, 2021) – The Emergency Nurses Association on Monday issued a letter of support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act of 2021 following its introduction in the House by Rep. Joe Courtney.
The bill would require, among other things, health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan which must include procedures to identify and respond to risks that make health care facilities, such as emergency departments, vulnerable to violent incidents. The latest version includes language that ensures workers are informed specifically about antiretaliation protections for those who report violent incidents.
In the letter to Courtney, ENA President Ron Kraus, MSN, RN, EMT, CEN, TCRN, ACNS-BC, described the legislation as “important and timely” given the prevalence of attacks on emergency nurses. Research has found that ED staff, including nurses, deal with a violent encounter about once every two months. A study by OSHA reported health care workers accounted for approximately 50 percent of all workplace violence victims and are four times more likely to be involved in such incidents compared to all other U.S. workers.
“For too long, emergency nurses have disproportionately suffered the physical and mental toll caused by violent assaults inflicted on them as they simply did their job caring for patients,” Kraus said. “This legislation takes an important step toward reducing the opportunity for, and frequency of, such attacks with the ultimate goal of protecting the safety of all emergency health care providers.”
Kraus also praised Courtney, who spoke about workplace violence at ENA’s annual advocacy event in 2019, for continuing to put the safety of health care workers at the forefront of his legislative priorities.
Workplace violence has long been a top priority for ENA, which supported similar bills introduced in the last two congressional cycles. In 2019, ENA and the American College of Emergency Physicians united to launch the No Silence on ED Violence campaign focused on raising awareness about the issue, while also providing emergency nurses and physicians relevant resources and a peer support network.