ACOEM Issues Action Alert -- Urges Membership to Tell Congress to Protect Health Care and Social Service Workers from Workplace Violence

 February 26, 2021
The Honorable Joe Courtney
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Re: H.R.1195, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act

Dear Representative Courtney:

On behalf of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), I am writing in support of your legislation – H.R.1195, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.
ACOEM is a national medical society representing over 4,000 occupational medicine physicians and other health care professionals devoted to preventing and managing occupational injuries. Within ACOEM, a large special interest section is dedicated to Medical Center Occupational Health, focusing on the particular exposure and injury hazards faced by nurses, doctors, and other healthcare personnel.
Many of our members practice in medical centers and have first-hand experience with workplace violence where they practice. Physicians and other health care professionals across the US are increasingly alarmed at the high rates of serious injury due to workplace violence within the health care professions. Workers in healthcare and social service settings are at the highest risk of violence on the job because of their direct contact with patients and client care, experiencing the highest rate of serious injury due to workplace violence at a rate of 13.7 per 10,000 workers, compared with 2.9 for all workers.
ACOEM supports directing OSHA to establish a standard requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and protect employees from violent incidents in the workplace. An enforceable OSHA standard is needed to avert foreseeable, serious, and life-altering violence against workers in hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, and social service settings.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the heightened risk of workplace violence that physicians, nurses, and other health professionals face on a day-to-day basis, and which has been exacerbated further due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should seize this opportunity to encourage workplaces to adopt proven prevention techniques to prepare them to respond to violent incidents.
Thank you for your leadership on this critical issue. Please do not hesitate to contact Patrick O’Connor, ACOEM’s Director of Government Affairs, at 703-351-6222 with any questions.
Beth A. Baker, MD, MPH, FACOEM
ACOEM President