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National legislation introduced to protect health care workers

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, health care workers nationwide, including in California, are involved in almost as many workplace violence incidents that lead to serious injury as the combined number of such events in all other industries. Now, a federal bill to protect social service and health care workers by preventing workplace violence has been introduced. Under this legislation, OSHA will be mandated to establish national safety standards that will require employers in these industries to develop and implement comprehensive plans to prevent workplace violence before it can occur.

Workplaces that will fall under this bill will include more than hospitals. Residential and non-residential treatment facilities along with treatment centers for substance use disorders and psychiatric treatment facilities will be included. Also, emergency services, federal health care facilities, community care centers and fieldwork setting will have to implement prevention plans.

Some of the requirements of the proposed federal standards will be for employers to assess the risks and implement interventions to reduce violence. A union spokesperson says common hazards to address include affixing freestanding lighting and furniture that could serve as weapons in violent attacks. It was also noted that employees should be involved in the process to develop and implement prevention plans because they are typically the ones who face the risks.

Health care workers in California who are suffering the consequences of workplace violence can seek financial assistance through the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system. They need not deal with the challenging process on their own because an attorney who is experienced in the navigation of benefits claims can help. A lawyer can provide support and guidance throughout the administrative and legal proceedings in pursuit of maximum benefits for medical expenses and lost wages.

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