Washington – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is applauding the House passage of the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act and calling on Senate leaders to bring the legislation up for a vote.
“On behalf of the 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers represented by AFGE, I thank the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this critical legislation to protect federal workers in health care and social services from violence in the workplace,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley.
The bill (H.R. 1195), reintroduced Feb. 22 by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), would direct OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers in the health care and social services industries to develop and implement workplace violence prevention plans to protect nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and others.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workers in health care and social service professions are five times more likely to suffer a serious injury related to workplace violence than those in other professions.
“These workers are facing a disturbing level of violence,” Courtney said in a press release. “It’s happening in every congressional district across the country. They shouldn’t have to fear for their own lives while they’re at work trying to save ours.”
Previously introduced as H.R. 1309 in February 2019, the legislation passed the House by a 251-158 vote Nov. 21, 2019, but never came up for a vote in the Senate.
‘FAR PAST TIME’
“It is far past time to protect these workers and hold employers accountable – starting with the federal government,” Kelley said.
“If enacted, this legislation would do just that by requiring the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a federal standard that directs health care and social service employers to implement a workplace violence prevention plan.”
The bill also would protect workers who report violence from retaliation.
“We thank leadership in the House for passing this measure and call on Senate leaders to bring this bill to the floor for a vote as soon as possible, sending it to President Biden for his signature,” Kelley said. “We cannot afford to delay these critical protections for our health care and social service workers any longer.”