U.S. Capitol Building

A bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is meant to protect healthcare professionals from violence in the workplace.

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a standard requiring healthcare and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and protect employees from violent incidents, according to a press release from Baldwin’s office.

According to Baldwin, healthcare workers were victims of 73% of all nonfatal injuries from workplace violence in 2018. She announced the legislation during a news conference Wednesday as part of National Nurses Week alongside leaders from National Nurses United, the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.

“Nurses report being punched, kicked, bitten, beaten, and threatened with violence as they provide care to others — and some have even been stabbed or shot,” National Nurses United President Jean Ross, RN, said at the press conference.

The House version of the bill, H.R. 1195, led by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), was passed on April 16, 2021.

The federal legislation is modeled after a California healthcare workplace violence standard that was the result of state legislation sponsored by the California Nurses Association / National Nurses United, according to National Nurses United

“We are bearing the brunt of a broken healthcare system at a time when people’s frustration and stress are at their highest,” Ross stated. “Nurses are conditioned by our employer to just take it, to accept that violence is part of the job. But we are not willing to take it any longer.”

Baldwin’s version also is supported by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), , Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), , Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD),Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR)..

“We fully support ensuring our caregivers work in a safe environment, and providers will continue to do everything they can to protect their employees from violent incidents,” American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living told McKnight’s.