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Bill to Step Up Violence Prevention in California Hospitals Continues to Advance in Legislature

California Nurses Association Press Release, 6/12/14

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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 first Assembly test Wednesday. 

Senate Bill 1299, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, and sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee Wednesday, and now heads to the Assembly Health Committee next week. 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.

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. 

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