With bipartisan support, a bill safeguarding physicians, nurses, social workers, emergency responders and others passed the U.S. House of Representatives in mid-April. The tally was 254-166, with 38 Republicans voting for the bill.
Titled the Workplace Violence Protection for Health Care and Social Services Act, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a standard that employers must follow to keep health care workers safe.
Health care workers are more susceptible to workplace injury
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, serious injuries related to workplace violence are five times more likely to happen to health care and social service workers than other professions. One of the bill’s sponsors says these workers are regularly kicked, punched, beaten and even killed on the job.
The groundbreaking legislation would hold health care companies accountable for keeping their workers safe. The National Nurses United union and the AFL-CIO are among the major labor organizations supporting the measure. Union leaders say workplace violence has become a worsening problem for health care employees, but it is preventable.
The legislation stalled the last time around
A previous version of the workplace safety bill passed the House in February 2019. But it never came up for a vote in the U.S. Senate under former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Supporters of the renewed effort say lawmakers cannot wait any longer to pass the bill and protect these workers, who dedicate and risk their lives to care for the rest of us.