March 6, 2019

2019 Media Alert: AIHA Supports the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309)

What: The American Industrial Hygiene Association announced its support for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), which was recently introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.

Why: The bill, which is supported by more than 30 members of Congress, would call on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create a national standard requiring health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. This legislation is especially important because health care and social service workers face extremely high rates of workplace violence.

"Data show that health care and social service workers are nearly six times more likely to experience workplace violence," said Cynthia Ostrowski, CIH, president of AIHA. "Strategies to prevent violence against this category of workers are urgently needed, because we cannot expect them to care about our health and safety if we can't guarantee theirs."

Each year, approximately 2 million Americans report having been the victim of workplace violence. Workers in the health care and social service industries experience the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence: They are nearly five times more likely to suffer a workplace violence injury. A 2016 comprehensive review of "Workplace Violence Against Health Care Workers in the United States," published by the New England Journal of Medicine, reports that, although employees in the health care and social service sectors account for 12.2 percent of the workforce, nearly 75 percent of workplace assaults occur in a health care setting. The third leading cause of death for health care workers is workplace violence.

Preventing workplace violence is part of AIHA's Public Policy Agenda, which focuses on 15 critical issues that play an important role in creating a healthy and safe work environment.

Where: For strategies on keeping work sites safe, please read Synergist's "Preventing Workplace Violence" article. For more information on H.R. 1309, please visit Congress' website.

Who: Founded in 1939, AIHA is a nonprofit organization serving professionals dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control and confirmation of environmental stressors in or arising from the workplace that may result in injury, illness or impairment, or affect the well-being of workers and members of the community. AIHA provides comprehensive education programs and other products and services that help its members maintain the highest professional standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed in the industrial, consulting, academic and government sectors.

Contact: For additional information, contact Mark Ames, AIHA's director of government relations.