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New anti-violence laws to limit workplace injuries in hospitals

In 2014, legislation was enacted in California that directed the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to establish a standard to prevent workplace violence. By April 1 of this year, all the health care employers in the state that are covered must submit plans by which they intend to protect workers from workplace injuries caused by violence. At the federal level, a similar bill was introduced by lawmakers on March 8 requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to oversee the creation of unit-specific violence prevention programs nationwide.

Rep. Ro Khanna, from California, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives. He says doctors, nurses and other health care workers are always at risk of being punched, kicked and strangled, or subjected to other violent attacks. These violent incidents often result in serious injuries and even death. The prevention plans must address specific incidents of violence as well as threats so that issues can be addressed immediately.

The violence prevention plans must include input from custodial workers, nurses and doctors. Lawmakers say the basis of the programs must be prevention, but staff participation and training are essential. Rep. Khanna said the success that is evident in California inspired extending the program for violence prevention standards nationally.

Some of the measures included in the California prevention plan include affixing or mounting lighting and furniture to prevent them from being used as weapons, easy access to phones and panic buttons, and for all staff to be in clear view of other workers while they care for patients. Although the system in California has proved to be successful, instances of violence against medical personnel still occur. Victims of such attacks may seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to help them claim benefits to cover the medical expenses and lost wages following assaults that caused workplace injuries.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Lawmakers seek OSHA standard on workplace violence prevention in health care", March 14, 2018

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