State Representative Nicholas Micozzie (R-163) has introduced House Bill 1992, which would require Pennsylvania hospitals and other health care facilities to take proactive steps to protect nurses and other health care workers from suffering from violence on the job. The bill, a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) and Representative Micozzie, would require hospitals to assess the security risks in their facilities, find ways to create a safer workplace, and help victims of violence report incidences.
“Our health care professionals work tirelessly to help protect and care for individuals when they are at their most vulnerable, and we have an obligation to make sure they are able to do their jobs in an environment that is free of the threat of violence,” said Micozzie. “It was my honor to help craft this legislation, and I am hopeful it will move swiftly through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk to be signed into law.”
Workplace violence against health professionals is on the rise both in frequency and severity, and for the past year PASNAP has been out in front advocating against this disturbing trend. Last winter, the statewide union of registered nurses and health care professionals held three conferences in order to educate health workers about the growing issue and to begin to address how to resolve it.
As a result, PASNAP created the Workplace Violence Prevention Task Force, whose honorary co-chairs are District Attorneys Seth Williams (Philadelphia) and Michael Green (Delaware County). The task force aims to raise public awareness about the issue, work with hospitals to correct unsafe conditions, and pass legislation which will help prevent violent incidents from occurring in the first place. HB 1992 is the result of efforts by Task Force members who have worked closely with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys’ Association, local law enforcement agencies, and their elected officials.
“This marks an important step in our efforts to protect all health care workers from workplace violence. Thanks to the hard work of our members and our allies in the District Attorneys’ offices and in the legislature, every hospital will now become proactive in prevention of injury to their caregivers,” said Patricia Eakin, ER nurse at Temple University Hospital and statewide president of PASNAP.
“It is the hospital’s responsibility to protect its nurses and other staff from violence at work,” said Bill Cruice, Esq., PASNAP Executive Director. “While we’ve negotiated strong protections against violence in our PASNAP contracts, this bill would force all hospitals in the state to take proactive steps to stop violence before it starts.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams applauded PASNAP’s efforts to protect health care workers, saying, “It is imperative that we protect employees whose primary responsibility is to comfort and protect the public. This legislation goes a long way to achieving this important goal.”
Incidents of workplace violence against staff occur in rural, suburban, and inner-city hospitals alike. HB 1992 will help each health facility develop a plan to addressing its own risk factors, including training level of security personnel, building design and lighting, staffing levels, and hospital culture of safety.
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