WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on the House of Representatives’ passage of H.R. 1195, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop enforceable safety standards for frontline healthcare and social service workers, who are five times more likely to be assaulted at work than the rest of the labor force:
“Every single worker in this country should have the right to a safe workplace, no matter what job they do. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the fact that this isn’t a reality for far too many. From frontline staff without proper personal protective equipment to healthcare professionals facing retaliation for speaking out against issues they see in the workplace, it is clear working people need enforceable federal protections on the job.
“For our healthcare professionals—who experience 73 percent of reported workplace violence injuries—this means more than kind words and nightly applause; these workers need federal protections to keep them safe from the epidemic of workplace violence and other serious hazards they face while caring for patients. I hear these horror stories all the time: a nurse choked to the point of unconsciousness, a nurse stabbed, members who have suffered bone fractures and brain injuries from being thrown against walls and floors. Despite what some are told, this violence just isn’t ‘part of the job.’
“We thank this issue’s tireless defender, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), for moving this bill. We urge the Senate to recognize that workplace safety is not a partisan issue, but rather a human right, and do the same.”