Workplace violence continues to be an issue in hospitals across the country; the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) recently found that 86% of Massachusetts nurses have experienced some form of violence while at work, in the last two years. Because of this, the MNA is supporting a state bill aimed at reducing workplace violence. H.1007, the Workplace Violence Prevention Bill, would require that healthcare employers perform annual safety risk assessment and develop programs to minimize the danger of workplace violence. It would also allow employees assaulted on the job to take seven paid days off per year to address legal issues.
The representative filing the bill is Denise Garlick, a former nurse that was attacked by a patient in the 1980s. She led a contingent of lawmakers who testified in support of the bill last week. “We want to say that violence in not acceptable in any workplace, but the truth is it’s prevalent in the healthcare environment for a variety of reasons. The healthcare environment is so complicated now,” Garlick said. “There are thousands and thousands of healthcare workers in the commonwealth of Massachusetts who enter workplaces where they are not safe.”
Massachusetts isn’t the only state considering such a bill; California has a similar bill in the pipeline, and Delaware passed a bill last summer that made assaulting a nurse a Class D felony.
Hearings started last week, we will keep you up to date as the process unfolds.