April 8, 2019
The Honorable Joe Courtney
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Re: H.R.1309, 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.1309, 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, there is a large special interest section 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 prevent 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 physicians, nurses and other health professionals face on a day-to-day basis. Congress should seize this opportunity to help encourage workplaces to adopt proven prevention techniques to prepare them for responding to violent incidents.
Thank you for your leadership on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact Patrick O’Connor, ACOEM’s Director of Government Affairs, at 703-351-6222, with any questions.
William G. Buchta, MD, MPH, FACOEM