Are Laws Aimed at Reducing Workplace Violence Against Healthcare Workers Effective?
June 1, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System
Although several states have laws aimed at reducing violence against healthcare workers, it is unclear whether they are effective, according to a May 2016 research bulletin released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Healthcare workers are five times as likely to encounter workplace violence as workers in all other industries combined, said NIOSH, and more than half of all nonfatal assaults in private industry occur in a healthcare setting, usually by patients. NIOSH investigators, with university and union partners, are currently measuring compliance with the New Jersey Violence and Prevention in Health Care Facilities Act, a 2008 law that became effective on September 8, 2011. The law requires healthcare facilities to create comprehensive workplace-violence prevention programs, which include the creation of multidisciplinary violence-prevention committees, violence prevention policies, and employee training. The investigators interviewed chairs of workplace violence prevention committees representing 56% of New Jersey hospitals, and said at this point whether the polices are working remains unclear.