AFT President Randi Weingarten, Washington State Nurses Association Executive Director David Keepnews and Anne Goldman Mourn Loss of Home Healthcare Worker Murdered on the Job, Call for OSHA Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Washington State Nurses Association Executive Director David Keepnews and United Federation of Teachers Vice President for non-Department of Education members Anne Goldman issued the following statement mourning the loss of Douglas Brant, a home healthcare nurse and AFT member in Washington state who was murdered on the job by a patient’s family member, and calling for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard on workplace violence prevention, as well as commonsense gun safety laws:
“This unthinkable tragedy is heartbreaking, and was preventable. Our home healthcare workers—like so many of our frontline healthcare providers—put their lives on the line daily to care for others; and the laws that oversee their workplaces simply do not do enough to protect them. We must do better. Doug Brant’s death is a tragic reminder that these workers walk into dangerous conditions daily, both in hospitals and in patients’ homes. Those risks, coupled with the ongoing public health epidemic of gun violence—even with the protection of a union contract—cannot keep them safe without additional federal intervention.
“Every day, nurses, healthcare workers and social service workers care for the sick, the elderly and the mentally ill; yet, for too long, violence has been seen as just another risk associated with being a caregiver. But workplace violence is not just ‘part of the job.’ And when the safety of staff is at risk, the safety of patients is at risk too. Whether our frontline workers are caring for patients in their homes or in a hospital or clinic setting, they must not be left vulnerable with no federal, enforceable standards requiring comprehensive policies to prevent further tragedies. It’s time to end this silent epidemic of healthcare workplace violence.”
“I am heartbroken and outraged. This cold-blooded killing is an incalculable loss for Doug Brant’s patients, his family, his colleagues, his community and WSNA. It is also a horrific example of the growing problem of violence against nurses and other healthcare workers. That violence has to stop. Home health nurses and other home health workers—like all healthcare workers—are there to provide professional, compassionate care for patients, families and communities. They are not there to be victims of senseless violence.
“We are committed to ending violence against nurses and healthcare workers. This tragic incident is a call to action to us and all nurses to redouble our efforts to stop workplace violence. That is one of the best ways we can honor the memory of Doug Brant.”
“As the hospital industry pushes more and more care into homes, causing workers to be in unrestricted and high-risk situations, we must have the proper federal standards and safeguards in place to prevent these senseless acts of violence. Over a 15-year period, the rate of reported assaults in healthcare facilities continued to grow, and employers have every responsibility to ensure that nurses and other healthcare workers are providing care in environments that are as safe as possible.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.