Sending Office: Honorable Joe Courtney
Sent By:

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Protect Health Care and Social Service Workers from Violence on the Job

Support the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act

Current Cosponsors: Bonamici, Brady (PA), DeLauro, Holmes Norton, Jackson Lee, Khanna, Schackowsky, Scott (VA), Takano, Wilson

Endorsing Organizations: American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, American Federation of Government Employees, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Nurses United, United Steelworkers

Deadline: Friday 11/16 at 10:00 a.m. to be an original cosponsor

Dear Colleague,

Health care and social service workers aim to make their patients and clients well, however, Department of Labor statistics show they face an outsized risk of on-the-job violence. Nurses, emergency room physicians, social workers, psychiatric facility aides,
and other health care and social service workers report that violence–most often from patients and those accompanying them–results in injury, loss of productivity, and serious safety concerns. A 2016 GAO study reported that rates of violence against health
care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce. In 2016, 70% of all nonfatal workplace assaults occurred in the health care and social service sectors. A 2018 survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians found
that 47% of emergency room doctors have been physically assaulted at work, and 8 in 10 workers surveyed report that this violence is affecting patient care.

I found these findings both troubling and unacceptable, especially given that these employees are entrusted to treat us in times of need, care for our children and elderly relatives, and provide medical and social service expertise. Failing to protect them
in their place of employment diminishes the importance of the work they do to keep us safe and healthy.

To address these rising rates of violence, I am introducing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. This legislation will require the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to issue a workplace violence prevention
standard requiring employers in the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a plan to protect their employees from workplace violence. These plans will be tailored to the specific workplace and employee population, but may include training
on de-escalation techniques, personal alarm devices, surveillance and monitoring systems, or other strategies identified by the employers and employees to keep workers safe. While OSHA has already issued voluntary guidance to employers on how to prevent violence
in these workplaces, data from BLS as well as personal testimony from workers about continuing violence shows that voluntary guidance is not sufficient. An enforceable standard is required to prevent the types of violence that are prevalent in too many of
our hospitals, nursing homes, and social service settings.

I hope you will join me in introducing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. For text of the bill and a section by section, or to become a cosponsors, please contact 

For more background, check out this short investigative report video:


Joe Courtney

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Family Issues, HealthCare, Labor

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