Violence & Harassment

Workplace Violence Prevention

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE IS NOT PART OF THE JOB.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers accounted for 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illness due to violence in 2018, the most recent data available, and were five times more likely to be punched, kicked, bitten, beaten, choked and assaulted on the job than all other workers. Some have even faced stabbings and shootings. Plus, surveys have shown that the epidemic of workplace violence in healthcare has accelerated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has precipitated the hemorrhaging of healthcare workers from hospitals across the nation.

Low staffing numbers raise the stress levels of both patients and staff. If a healthcare worker isn’t available to meet an agitated patient’s needs, the patient’s agitation accelerates, and verbal abuse and even physical violence can result. This is not acceptable. Workplace violence is not simply a part of the job.

EMPLOYERS ARE A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM

National Nurses United, the largest labor union and professional association for RNs in the United States, conducted seven surveys in 2020 and 2021, collecting more than 83,000 responses from RNs and other healthcare professionals in every state. They published “Workplace Violence and Covid-19 in Health Care: How the Hospital Industry Created an Occupational Syndemic” in November 2021. Some key findings:

A patient threatened to beat me up and kill me. When I reported it, I was asked what I did to agitate the patient.

DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR HOSPITAL/FACILITY DOES A GOOD JOB OF PROTECTING YOU FROM WORKPLACE VIOLENCE?

Every year, PASNAP surveys its membership of more than 9,000 nurses and healthcare professionals across Pennsylvania about issues of critical importance, including workplace violence. The 2021 survey revealed both how prevalent and how undertreated the problem is for frontline healthcare workers in PA:

Incidents occur in Pennsylvania every day. Some make the news — nurses held with scalpels at their necks in Hershey, sexual assault of an RN in Pittsburgh, and a nurse stabbed in the neck in the Lehigh Valley — most don’t. Many are never even reported.

THE HEALTHCARE FACILITIES VIOLENCE PREVENTION ACT (HOUSE BILL 348 & SENATE BILL 1256)

It is already a felony to assault a healthcare worker in Pennsylvania. We believe in strong enforcement of the law, but we also know that simply prosecuting offenders isn’t the solution. We want to stop workplace violence before it happens, not just punish it after it has occurred. That means: Changing the culture that treats violence and harassment as “just part of the job.” And ensuring that nurses and front line caregivers have a real voice in safety and security in our own facilities.

The Healthcare Facilities Violence Prevention Act (House Bill 348 and Senate Bill 1256) would require hospitals to establish workplace violence prevention committees, protocols and reports; perform annual risk assessments; and report instances of workplace violence. It would also protect employees and other healthcare providers from retaliatory action for reporting instances of workplace violence and — most importantly — give us a seat at the table to advocate for ourselves, our safety, and violence prevention measures at our workplace.

PASNAP members on the steps of the Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg on June 14, 2022.

Stop workplace violence before it happens! Harrisburg, June 14, 2022.