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Workplace Violence Is a Growing Problem

June 16, 2021By Niko Pothitakis

A pressing issue Iowa workers face is workplace violence, which is why standards are required to maintain a safer work environment. Professionals, such as nurses, social workers, and emergency responders, are often at risk of harm. A recently introduced federal standard would help give Iowa’s workforce the protection they need.

Is Workplace Violence on the Rise?

Many healthcare and social service employees are exposed to harm and are without sufficient protection against workplace violence. The numbers reflect a serious problem when it comes to violence: The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) found that 450 homicides resulted directly or indirectly from workplace violence in 2017. Additionally, the organization determined that there was an 80% increase in serious workplace violence injuries for healthcare and social service employees in the last decade.

Healthcare and social service workers are also 4.7 times more likely to sustain injuries as a result of workplace violence than other employees. Women are most frequently affected, with female workers harmed in two out of three workplace violence events.

With the growing epidemic of workplace violence and subsequent work-related injuries, it’s important for businesses to take the necessary steps to protect their employees.

A New Proposed Standard to Prevent Workplace Violence

The AFL-CIO introduced new legislation that would help make the workplace safer for many vulnerable employees. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act would put into place a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard to minimize the risk of workplace violence.

The standard would specifically work to reduce and prevent injuries to workers that are serious, life-altering, and foreseeable in nursing homes, social service facilities, and hospitals. Once implemented, health care and social service sectors would be required to implement an actionable plan to keep workers consistently safe from violence. In turn, protecting workers more effectively would help keep patients safer in many of these environments.

Taking Steps to Reduce Workplace Violence

In introducing the new standard, the AFL-CIO hopes that workers will have a chance to remain safer on the job while patients benefit from a safer environment. While more work is needed to significantly reduce workplace violence, the legislation is a step in the right direction in giving workers sufficient protection in particularly dangerous sectors.