Light Shed on Workplace Violence in Health Care at Rapid Response Conference

Health care members spoke on a panel discussion devoted to workplace violence at last week’s USW Rapid Response and Legislative Conference.

The panel, entitled “Protecting Our Workers from Violence on the Job,” noted how the health care industry is one of the most dangerous industries in which to work. Between 2011 and 2016, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 58 hospital workers alone died as a result of violence in their workplaces.

Pictured: DeJonae Shaw of Local 7600.

And that doesn’t include the everyday kicks, slaps, and other physical and verbal abuse from patients and sometimes even their family members.

“Workers are often made to feel at fault for these incidents,” said DeJonae Shaw, a nurse and member of Local 7600 in District 12.

Shaw said that “blame-the-worker” atmosphere leads some health care practitioners to avoid reporting violent acts.

“Sometimes it feels like management doesn’t care about violence in our workplace but, thankfully, we have a union that does care,” said nursing assistant Stephanie Adams, a member of Local 9230 in District 11.

Attendees of the conference also participated in an advocacy day while in Washington, D.C., to lobby their representatives for several pro-worker bills, including the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act (S.851/H.R. 1309). This legislation would mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) create a national enforceable standard requiring health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

Hundreds of Steelworkers marched to the Department of Labor (DOL) for a rally before lobbying and were joined by several legislative leaders, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)

A group of USW leaders and members also attended a meeting with DOL officials following the rally to speak about the workplace violence bill and drop off the 80,000 “Safe Jobs Now” postcards the union collected throughout the year in support of the legislation.

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