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Bill seeks workplace violence prevention in health care industry

In late 2018, a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives that would require OSHA to create a standard for keeping those in the health care and social services industries safe from workplace violence. On Feb. 27, 2019, the House Education and Labor Committee's Workforce Protections Subcommittee held a hearing about this proposal. New Jersey residents should know that the bill has more than 40 co-sponsors.

The bill is entitled the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The OSHA standard, if implemented, would apply to nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and other caregivers.

It would meet an important need since health care workers experience 12 times more incidents of workplace violence than the overall work force does, according to the Government Accountability Office. In fact, 69 percent of all reported cases of workplace violence occur in health care facilities.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Social Workers are among the organizations that support the bill. The former noted in a press release that 80 percent of emergency medical workers will be the victims of violence, according to a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Those who are the victims of workplace violence may be eligible for compensation. If they cannot file a personal injury claim, they can still seek workers' compensation benefits. No one's negligence needs to be proven to receive these benefits. Workers' comp generally covers medical expenses, short- or long-term disability leave (if applicable) and a portion of lost wages. It might be advisable to have legal assistance when preparing and filing the required claim documentation.

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