House passes bill tackling workplace violence in health care, social services sectors

The House passed legislation on Thursday aimed at addressing workplace violence in the health care and social service sectors.

The measure, which passed in a 251-158 vote, calls for employers to develop plans to prevent and investigate instances of violence in the workplace. It also would push for training and education to be available for workers and implement record-keeping requirements. The Labor Department would also play a role in promoting health and safety standards.

Proponents argue that workers in the health and social service fields are disproportionately harmed by workplace violence and that the legislation — H.R. 1306, introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) — is needed to lower those risks.

“Currently, OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has no standard for requiring health care and social service employees to implement workplace violence prevention programs and it takes the agency from seven to 20 years to issue a new standard,” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said during debate ahead of the vote.

GOP critics, however, argue the bill would allow OSHA to sidestep the compilation of feedback from small businesses and the public. They also argue it would fail to adequately address the issue of workplace violence.

“American workers should be kept out of harm’s way on the job so they can return onto their every day healthy and safe,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said on the floor. “These care caregivers deserve protections, but H.R. 1309 is not the right way to address this important issue. Our health care workers and caregivers deserve a thoroughly vetted and researched solution that protects them in the workplace.”

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Tags Bobby Scott Joe Courtney Virginia Foxx Workplace violence

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