Preventing Workplace Violence against Health Care Workers

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 health care workers in Minnesota.

The Violence against Health Care Workers Bill is designed to provide adequate training, staffing, and security to health care workers who are faced with workplace violence. The bill was heard this week in the Senate Health, Human Services, and Housing Committee.

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.

This 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 and 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. (S.F. 1071)

Senate DFL Media