With shifting political winds favoring its passage, a resolution has been reintroduced in Congress that would require OSHA to issue a standard to protect healthcare workers against violence.

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act1 could pick up some political momentum coming into the House of Representatives this year. Previous versions of the bill, as well as other attempts to address the epidemic of violence in healthcare, have been rebuffed at the federal level. As with prior versions, the bill would require healthcare employers to create and implement workplace violence prevention plans that pass OSHA muster.

“This legislation compels OSHA to do what employees, safety experts, and members of Congress have been calling for years: Create an enforceable standard to ensure that employers are taking these risks seriously and creating safe workplaces that their employees deserve,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-CT, the resolution’s primary sponsor, said in a statement.

In addition to 20 congressional cosponsors, Courtney’s resolution has received support from the nation’s large labor organizations, including National Nurses United.

“It’s so important for nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and social service workers to be directly involved in the development and implementation of these plans, because employees know best the risks we face on the job,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of the nursing union.

The federal action follows action from states such as Illinois, which recently passed a law to protect healthcare workers. (See Hospital Employee Health, December 2018, for more information.)


  1. U.S. Congress. Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. Nov. 14, 2018. Available at: https://bit.ly/2DKYcqj.