Sen. Wiger Introduces Bill to Prevent Workplace Violence against Health Care Workers

ST. PAUL, MINN – A violent and unsettling video of St. John’s Hospital nurses in Maplewood being attacked by a patient wielding a metal bar from an IV pole made the news back in November. The attacks resulted in a collapsed lung, fractured wrists, and legislators determined to pass a bill to help combat the rise in workplace violence against nurses in Minnesota.

Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) is chief author of S.F. 1071 – the Violence against Health Care Workers Bill, which is designed to provide adequate training, staffing and security to health care workers who are faced with workplace violence. The bill will be heard on Wednesday at noon in room 15 at the Capitol, in the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee.

“Violence against health care workers is unacceptable. These hardworking people are tasked with the health and safety of their patients, it’s time to make sure they have the same protections,” said Sen. Wiger.

According to the Department of Justice, fewer than half of all non-fatal violent workplace crimes are reported to the police. This bill would protect some of the known causes for under-reporting workplace assaults, including “part of the job” syndrome, fear of blame or reprisal, lack of management/peer support, and feeling it’s not worth the effort. There are currently no Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards regarding workplace violence.

Wiger’s legislation aims to make hospitals more accountable through education and best practices. This will be achieved by hospitals being required to develop violence prevention plans in coordination with healthcare workers and local law enforcement, and identifying areas of need. Health care workers will also receive training on violence prevention, de-escalation as well as emergency preparedness. The bill also includes penalties that could revoke or suspend a hospital’s license if the Minnesota Department of Health determines that the hospital interfered with a worker reporting an act of violence to law enforcement.

“Every Minnesotan has the right to feel safe and secure in their job. I’m proud of this legislation which addresses a real need and a growing problem in Minnesota hospitals,” said Wiger.

If you have questions or concerns on this bill, please contact Sen. Wiger at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn.

Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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