A bill intended to protect employees in Nevada’s health care industry from workplace violence is getting its first hearing today. The state’s Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee will hear testimony from experts and stakeholders on A.B. 348, which would require health care employers to create comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans and track violent incidents in hospitals and other medical facilities. The measure was introduced by Nevada Assemblymember Michelle Gorelow and is sponsored by Nevada health care unions NNOC/NNU and SEIU Local 1107. The bill has also been endorsed by the Nevada State AFL-CIO.
The state’s health care unions, National Nurses Organizing Committee-Nevada/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) and Service Employees International (SEIU) Local 1107 have indicated strong support for the measure.
Punched, kicked and worse
The risk of workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard for RNs and other health care workers. They routinely report being kicked, punched, slapped, pushed, spat on, and verbally threatened.
Statistics from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicate the problem of violence in medical settings is on the rise. A 2016 GAO report found a greater than 12 percent increase in workplace violence related injuries for health care workers between 2011 and 2013. Violence against nurses and other health care workers causes trauma, injuries, and even death. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, between 2011 and 2016 at least 58 hospital workers died as a result of violence in their workplaces.
“I had a patient kick a nurse’s aide in the chest, punch two RNs and then a house supervisor. Nothing was done,” said Tyiesha McCoy, a medical-surgical nurse in Las Vegas. “We need A.B. 348 to ensure our safety as we care for our patients.”
"Healthcare workers across Nevada are facing a disproportionate amount of violence at work,” said Zavia Norman, a respiratory therapist and vice-president of healthcare for SEIU 1107. Assemblymember Gorelow's bill would involve all healthcare workers, nurses, nursing aides, and other staff in the creation of prevention plans. The bill makes sense and will lead to meaningful solutions."
National Nurses United says the bill is drawing bipartisan support.
Said Gorelow; “Workplace violence in health care is a growing menace and must be stopped. We have a duty to protect those nurses and other health care workers who care for us when we are at our most vulnerable.”
Highlights of A.B. 348:
- It creates a Nevada OSHA standard to require health care employers to create comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans.
- The definition of workplace violence must include any act of violence or threats of violence, regardless of whether an employee was injured.
- The plans must be unit specific and created in collaboration between employers and employees.
- The plans must delineate how to implement prevention measures such as staffing, security response, alarms, sufficient lighting, and other measures.
- The plans must include procedures for employees to report all incidents of workplace violence without fear of reprisal.
- Employers must provide effective training programs including hands on de-escalation training for all employees with patient contact.
- The bill requires that health care employers keep records of all workplace violence incidents and report certain incidents to the Department of Industrial Relations.