With staff and employees in the healthcare industry four times as likely to face violence in the workplace than in any other private industry, healthcare workplace safety is becoming a concern for the country’s politicians and policy makers. Last November, the House of Representatives passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309). This new bill would require hospitals to implement workplace safety plans to prevent violence. And it’s very likely that healthcare facilities could face penalty fines if they fail to report incidents of violence that occur within their walls.
While H.R. 1309 has been passed by the House, the bill also must be passed by the Senate before it becomes law. It’s unclear when the legislation will be voted on by Senate members. However, it’s still important that healthcare and hospital employees are aware of the potential regulation changes so they can begin to take proactive steps to protect employees.
What Hospitals Need to Know
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act calls for a standard of workplace safety on par with OSHA’s “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.” One of the most important aspects of OSHA’s guidelines is that it enforces record keeping and reporting of violence against healthcare employees. Here are some measures you could expect that you would be required to implement if H.R. 1309 is passed by the Senate:
- Record every serious injury and illness sustained by your employees on the job, including physical assault and sexual assault.
- Include all pertinent details of an assault sustained in your facility in a medical report. This includes the situation, type of assault, and any injuries.
- Maintain record of not only patient-on-employee assaults, but employee-on-employee assaults as well. This includes verbal assaults and aggressive behaviors.
- Inform employees if their patients have any history of violence, drug abuse, or criminal activity.
- Establish a reporting system to review reports on violence and identify trends. Identify common risks to employee safety.
- Implement violence prevention programs to address the risks identified and reduce workplace assaults.
How to Prepare and Keep Employees Safe
While the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act is not yet mandatory for healthcare facilities to be compliant, it’s still wise to be proactive and prepare. There are a variety of technology solutions that can help your facility implement better reporting and enforce a higher standard of personal safety if H.R. 1309 is made into law. Some examples are:
- Metal detectors
- Panic buttons, such as PDC’s React Mobile
- Reporting systems and processes
- A well-trained security team
- Consider hiding or removing last names on employee IDs, if allowed
- Proper Patient Identification
Learn more about React Mobile, a healthcare employee safety platform program that puts panic buttons in the hands of healthcare employees.