Bill to Strengthen Workplace Violence Prevention in CA Hospitals Advances Again in Legislature
Legislation to assure California hospitals have stronger measures to reduce workplace violence incidents continues to move forward in the California state legislature as it passed its second Assembly test today.
Senate Bill 1299, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, and sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, was approved by the Assembly Health Committee today, and heads next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration, probably later this summer. The bill won approval by the California Senate last month.
SB 1299 would require the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt standards requiring hospitals to establish workplace violence prevention plans to protect health care workers and other facility personnel, as well as hospital patients, families, and visitors, from aggressive and violent behavior.
The bill has gained greater urgency in the wake of several incidents of violence in hospital settings such as stabbings of two RNs at Los Angeles area hospitals and shootings in and around Bay Area hospitals this spring.
"When I used to go to work, when I'd say goodbye to my family, I never thought twice about seeing them again but over the last year I worry every day when I go to work whether that's going to be my last goodbye to them, whether somethings going to happen at work or not," said Carol Koelle, an RN at San Bernardine Medical Center and a CNA boardmember. "That's not the kind of environment that supports RNs taking care of our patients. That's why we really need SB1299, the Workplace Violence Prevention Act."
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and social service workers are nearly five times more likely to suffer workplace assaults than workers in all other major industries combined.
One major reason for the escalating occurrences, say nurses, is the lack of adequate preventive measures in too many hospitals.
Under SB 1299, hospitals would be required to have policies that include systems to improve hospital security and appropriate staffing to reduce the potential for violent incidents. Sufficient staffing and security personnel are major preventive measures.
Hospitals would also be required to provide education and training programs for recognizing and responding to violence, and would be prohibited from retaliation against employees who seek help from law enforcement.
Additionally the law would step up the requirement for hospitals to document and report incidents of violence to Cal-OSHA and would require Cal/OSHA to post a report on its website containing information regarding violent incidents at hospitals and to make recommendations on how to prevent violent incidents at hospitals.