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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 1195 - Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act

April 13, 2021

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

(House Rules)
(Rep. Courtney, D-CT, and 145 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports passage of H.R. 1195, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. This bipartisan legislation will lead to the development of Federal standards to ensure that health care and social service employers develop and implement plans to protect their staff, prevent and improve the response to workplace violence, and address existing barriers to reporting.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, incidents of violence against health care and social service workers have been on the rise. A 2016 Government Accountability Office study reported that rates of violence against health care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce. In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that health care and social service workers were nearly five times as likely to suffer a serious workplace violence injury than workers in other sectors, and that healthcare workers accounted for 73 percent of such injuries. In 2017, state government health care and social service workers were almost nine times more likely to be injured by an assault than private-sector health care workers. Front line employees in these settings interact with a range of patients, clients, and their families, often with little training or direction for how to handle interactions that may become violent. Workplace violence often causes both physical and emotional harm. Victims of these incidents often suffer post-traumatic stress that undermines their ability to continue their employment in that sector. This burdens a stretched health care workforce that has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is currently no Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard that requires employers to implement violence prevention plans that would help reduce workplace violence injuries among health care and social service workers.

Under the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, OSHA must issue an interim final standard in one year and a final standard within 42 months requiring employers in the health care and social service sectors to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan. Under such a standard, employers would need to ensure that health care and social service workers are directly involved in the development, implementation, and assessment of these plans. This will include identifying risks, specifying solutions, and requiring training, reporting, and incident investigations. It would also provide protections from retaliation for reporting violent incidents. Additionally, this legislation will protect health care and social service workers in the public sector in 24 states where those employees are not covered by OSHA protections.

The Administration commends the bipartisan support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act and urges swift passage of this legislation.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 1195 - Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/350254