Workplace violence in the healthcare industry has reached critical levels. Providers must live and cope with the constant stress associated with the possibility of violence. Healthcare institutions struggle to find effective ways to prevent workplace violence in healthcare and to support their employees when incidents do occur. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) reflects the United States Congress’s effort to provide uniform workplace prevention standards for employers. H.R. 1195 mandates that all employers develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines published in 2015. The bill requires employers to provide training to employees and to maintain records of workplace violence risk, hazard assessments, and violent incidents. These records must be submitted to the Secretary of Labor. Every employer in the healthcare and social service industry covered by OSHA is regulated by H.R. 1195; this means every healthcare and social services provider must develop and implement a workplace safety plan.
Workplace Violence in Healthcare is Increasing
In 2018, 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace violence incidents involved healthcare workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Out of the incidents reported, 20 incidents were fatal. Healthcare workers also report that incidents of violence are up: in a 2022 survey of nurses, nearly half of hospital nurses (48 percent) reported a small or significant increase in workplace violence. This is a nearly 57 percent increase from September 2021 and a 119 percent increase from March 2021. This data reflects only those incidents that workers report. In reality, workplace violence in healthcare is underreported.
According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), workplace violence is a severe problem that has increased drastically over the last decade. Since 2010, the rate of serious workplace violence injuries has increased by 52 percent in healthcare and social assistance jobs. APHA asserts that healthcare and social service workers are at the greatest risk because they are on the frontlines of patient and client care, often working with high-risk populations who need specialized care and attention. According to APHA, workplace violence in healthcare has a significant and long-lasting impact on individual workers and the public’s health.
This uptick in workplace violence in healthcare has substantial consequences for individual caregivers. Healthcare workers’ mental health is adversely affected by incidents of workplace violence. Anxiety, PTSD, and depression are widespread among healthcare workers who have experienced violent incidents. These mental health struggles can contribute to workers’ inability to perform clinical care to the best of their abilities. According to the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), these challenges must be met with the support of administrators, leaders, and national advocates. Hospitals furthermore need to implement required staff training, increase security, and reform policy, among many constructive steps necessary to decrease the incidence of violence against healthcare workers by instituting robust workplace safety plans.
Lawmakers Respond to Workplace Violence in Healthcare
Lawmakers are responding to the destructive impact of workplace violence on the American healthcare system. H.R. 1195 mandates workplace violence prevention plans in healthcare and social service organizations. The legislation provides a workplace violence prevention framework for employers. The bill aims not only to support workers’ mental health by mitigating workplace violence in healthcare but also to make the healthcare and social services sectors more attractive workplaces. H.R. 1195 sponsor Representative Joe Courtney asserts that the bill can make healthcare and social services employers more attractive to potential job seekers in a difficult labor market: “the best way employers can enhance their position regarding hiring is to make it clear to people that their safety matters when they go to work.”
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act directs the Secretary of Labor to issue an interim final standard requiring employers in the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan based on OSHA guidelines published in 2015. The bill requires employers to:
- Create and implement annual employee training and education.
- Maintain detailed records of workplace violence risk, hazard assessments, and violent incidents.
- Submit annual summaries of such incidents to the Secretary of Labor.
The legislation aims to solve a problem: despite having the authority and responsibility to protect America’s caregivers from workplace violence, OSHA has not been given the basic tools to fulfill its mission. Until the passage of H.R. 1195, there was no standard requiring employers to implement efforts to reduce workplace violence in healthcare. The House Committee on Education and Labor argued that the time it takes to issue a formal OSHA standard is prohibitive. Meanwhile, healthcare and social service workers are suffering. Given the uptick of workplace violence in healthcare, legislators sought a timely way to protect caregivers. The legislation, therefore, directs the Secretary of Labor to issue an interim final standard.
Benefits to Employers
According to safety experts, proactive actions by employers prevent workplace violence. By instating workplace safety plans, organizations improve employee morale and productivity, which leads to lower employee turnover and fewer sick days. The actions required by H.R. 1195 can furthermore reduce employee mistakes that are the product of burnout or distraction after a violent incident. In a nation where workplace violence costs $1.1 billion across all U.S. hospitals per year, employers’ participation in improving workplace violence prevention policies helps improve organizations’ bottom lines.
The implementation of H.R. 1195 facilitates the following outcomes:
- Reduced compensation claims due to workplace violence incidents
- Minimized losses after readmissions and under-compensated care
- Controlled premiums and reduced insurance loss
- Lowered costs due to reduced absenteeism and employee turnover
- Lowered costs related to patient injuries, accidents, and errors
Workplace Safety Plans Protect Caregivers
Employers can meet the requirements of H.R. 1195 by enacting robust workplace violence prevention plans. The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system is designed for precisely this purpose. CrisisAlert enables caregivers to call for help from anywhere on campus using a wearable emergency button. Because this device is worn along with an employee ID badge, institutions see a 100 percent adoption rate. If an incident occurs, an employee can instantly call for help and a designated staff member can respond. This can defuse potentially violent incidents, and CrisisAlert’s around-the-clock support reduces employee stress levels. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert helps employers protect their employees.
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system also generates specific, targeted data about incidents of workplace violence, which allows hospital leaders to make strategic decisions about how best to protect employees. Record-keeping is made simple by the reports CrisisAlert generates, so institutions are easily able to meet their H.R. 1195 reporting requirements. CrisisAlert both increases safety in healthcare organizations and assists employers as they work to meet new legislative standards. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert is a valuable element of a workplace safety plan that makes any healthcare or social services organization a safer, more attractive place to work.
And CrisisAlert benefits patients, too. When nurses and staff feel supported by administrators, they can focus on what matters most—delivering high-quality patient care.
CENTEGIX is the leader in incident response solutions. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in any emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about CENTEGIX, visit www.centegix.com.