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AFT Resolutions

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE IN HEALTHCARE FACILITIES AND SETTINGS

WHEREAS, death and injury from workplace violence in healthcare settings are a significant occupational hazard that also threatens patient safety and well-being; and

WHEREAS, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2008 reports, healthcare workers suffer injuries associated with workplace violence at almost twice the rate of all other private sector workers; and

WHEREAS, according to the BLS (2008), home healthcare workers such as visiting nurses and social service workers have a rate of 15 work-related assaults per year (per 10,000 workers) compared to a rate of two work-related assaults per 10,000 workers per year for all workers; and

WHEREAS, workplace violence leads to increased medical and stress-related disability claims, lower productivity, higher turnover and possibly greater legal liability for the employer. Violence and harassment not only affect the health and productivity of victims and other workers but also have an enormous impact on the family members of victims; and

WHEREAS, research indicates that work-related assaults and injuries associated with violence in healthcare facilities are routinely underreported. Healthcare workers are often discouraged from reporting assaults or threats of violence, and many healthcare workers accept it as part of the job; and

WHEREAS, American Federation of Teachers' healthcare members have been tragically injured and killed in incidents that could have been prevented. A nurse who was a member of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) was murdered in November 1998 while conducting a home visit to a mentally ill client in Buffalo. Her agency had no policy or practice to protect agency nurses from the risk of patient violence. Numerous cases of healthcare workers being brutally assaulted in psychiatric units, emergency departments and out-patient settings continue to mount without an adequate response from facility administrators; and

WHEREAS, AFT Healthcare Local 5047, Danbury Nurses' Union Unit 47 members were physically assaulted by patients and witnessed a shooting of a co-worker on March 2, 2010; and

WHEREAS, intervention research has shown that comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs can significantly reduce injuries and illness; and

WHEREAS, the New York state Public Employees Federation (PEF) led a successful campaign to get New York state legislation mandating comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs in public sector agencies and workplaces; and

WHEREAS, California, Oregon, Illinois and Washington state have passed legislation requiring hospitals and healthcare settings to develop workplace violence prevention programs; and

WHEREAS, the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) lately led the drive to enactment of the Violence Prevention in Healthcare Facilities in New Jersey in 2008:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers advocate for an effective and comprehensive federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) standard that will mandate:

  • Written employer workplace violence prevention programs specific to the risk factors and characteristics of the individual healthcare setting; and
  • Genuine worker and union involvement in the development of the program; and
  • Healthcare facility analysis to identify existing hazards and conditions, including the tracking of violent incidents injury/illness; and
  • Hazard prevention and control: the identification and implementation of engineering; and
  • Administrative and work practice controls to prevent occupational injuries; and
  • Recordkeeping including methods to ensure that violent incidents are reported without fear of reprisal or discrimination; and
  • Training of frontline workers and management in the prevention of workplace violence; and
  • Evaluation of efforts to prevent workplace violence incidents; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will take a strong position against all forms of bullying and promote anti-bullying education in all healthcare settings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support the development of national and/or state legislation that mandates comprehensive workplace violence programs for hospitals, healthcare facilities and other healthcare settings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT advocate for more workplace violence prevention intervention and demonstration research in healthcare settings; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work with NIOSH, other professional organizations and experts to educate our leaders and members about the hazards of work-related violence; research outcomes and successful campaigns to end healthcare workplace violence.


(2010)