May 6 through May 12 is National Nurses Week. What better way to celebrate and show nurses we appreciate them than to take action against workplace violence and help make the workplace safer for nurses everywhere.
Workplace violence has been rampant nationwide and in California hospitals for over two decades. With no prevention programs in place to protect nurses and health care professionals from unexpected on-the-job assaults patients, this unregulated threat is not only harming health care workers on a daily basis, it is a public safety issue that threatens the safety of patients who entrust their lives and care to these facilities.
UNAC/UHCP member Liz Hawkins, RN, told her story recently in a petition asking for immediate action the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) to protect patients. “A patient punched me in the back of the head, slamming my head into a concrete wall and I was temporarily blinded,” said Liz Hawkins in describing the nightmare she faced as an RN in a Riverside emergency room. “Ask any health care worker you know and they are bound to have a story about violence in the workplace. I was injured my hospital’s policies, and the fact that there is currently no system in place to address issues of workplace violence.”
Violence in health care settings has been a serious occupational hazard for RNs and other health care workers for many years and it is a problem that is not getting better. Workplace Health & Safety identified workplace violence as an emerging hazard in health care some 22 years ago. “Workplace Violence in Health Care: Recognized but not Regulated” appeared in 2004 in the Online Journal of Nursing. 2011, violence in the ER had become so commonplace that the Los Angeles Times reported some workers saw it as “an unavoidable part of the job.” A study published in May 2014 in the Journal of Emergency Nursing found that 97 percent of emergency nurse respondents had been subject to workplace violence.
Cal/OSHA is in the process of drafting regulations and a prevention plan for all hospitals in the state of California, but we cannot allow for watered down regulations.
Nurses and health care professionals with UNAC/UHCP are asking for the public’s support to ensure the final regulations put the safety of both patients and health care workers first. Join more than 13,000 nurses, health care professionals and community members in asking Cal/OSHA to put protections and a workplace violence prevention plan in place in California right away signing this petition and sharing on social networks: https://www.change.org/p/california-division-of-occupational-safety-and-health-help-stop-violent-attacks-on-health-care-workers