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Bill seeks standard to prevent violence in healthcare settings

Georgia residents who work in the healthcare or social services industry should know about a proposed bill that intends to address the issue of workplace violence in those industries. The bill, called the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Nov. 16, 2018.

On Feb. 27, the House Education and Labor Committee's Workforce Protections Subcommittee held a hearing regarding the bill. Various people testified in support of the bill, including one nurse who was the victim of workplace violence and now suffers from moderate to severe PTSD, insomnia and social anxiety. The CEO for the National Association of Social Workers also spoke. The bill has more than 40 co-sponsors.

If passed, the bill will require OSHA to issue a standard for employers to follow as they develop workplace violence prevention plans for nurses, physicians, social workers, emergency responders and other caregivers. Sixty-nine percent of all reported cases of workplace violence take place in healthcare-related settings. The rate of violence is 12 times higher among healthcare workers than the overall work force.

The American Federation of Teachers, another supporter of the bill, issued a press release prior to the hearing. It states that 80 percent of emergency medical workers will experience violence at least once in their career.

Though employers may implement a prevention plan for workplace violence, this does not guarantee that all incidents will be prevented. If employees are assaulted and there is no evidence that the employer was neglecting workplace safety, then employees may be able to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits usually cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Victims may want to consult with a lawyer, especially if they are thinking about a liability or non-liability settlement.

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