Healthcare workers make it their job to help others, yet face a significant risk of workplace violence ranging from intimidation to physical attacks. In fact, compared with workers in all other industries combined, healthcare workers are nearly 5 times more likely to encounter workplace violence. NIOSH strives to protect these workers by studying the causes and prevention of violence in healthcare.
What NJ regulation requires
As the fastest-growing sector of the United States economy, healthcare employs more than 18 million workers, most of whom are women. More than half of all nonfatal assaults in private industry occur in healthcare, usually by patients. In an ongoing study addressing this serious and persistent problem, NIOSH investigators with university and union partners are measuring compliance with the New Jersey Violence Prevention in Health Care Facilities Act, which became law in 2008; the regulations became effective September 6, 2011. The law requires healthcare facilities in the state to establish a comprehensive workplace-violence prevention program, which includes a multidisciplinary workplace violence prevention committee, written violence prevention policies and procedures that is specific to their facilities, and employee training. Although New Jersey joins several other states with similar laws, it is unclear whether the laws are effective at reducing violence against healthcare workers.
How issue is being studied
To examine the law’s effectiveness, the investigators interviewed 35 chairs of workplace violence prevention committees representing 52 hospitals (56% of all New Jersey hospitals). In the next phase of the study, investigators will conduct interviews at nursing homes in New Jersey and Virginia regarding their policies and programs aimed at preventing workplace violence. Since Virginia does not have a regulation for workplace violence prevention, data collected from that state will provide a comparison. Through this comprehensive analysis of the New Jersey law, the investigators hope to provide information on the effectiveness of the regulation’s components for other states developing laws to prevent violence against healthcare workers. This information includes the peer-reviewed paper Barriers to Effective Implementation of Programs for the Prevention of Workplace Violence in Hospitals and two new papers being prepared for publication later this year. The papers will focus on hospital security programs and perceptions of training programs to prevent workplace violence due to the New Jersey legislation.