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Legislation would help protect health care workers


DECEMBER 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Legislation would help protect health care workers


LEHIGH VALLEY, November 18th- Pennsylvania State House of Representative Nicholas Micozzie (Republican-163rd Legislative District), has introduced House Bill 1992, which would require Pennsylvania hospitals and other health care facilities to take proactive steps to protect nurses and other health care workers from suffering from violence on the job.

House Bill 1992 is a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union and Mr. Micozzie and would require hospitals to assess the security risks in their facilities, find ways to create a safer workplace, and help victims of violence report incidences.

“This marks an important step in our efforts to protect health care workplace violence. Thanks to the hard work of our members and our allies in the District Attorney’s offices and in the legislature, every hospital will now become proactive in prevention of injury to their caregivers,” said Patricia Eakin, a Emergency Room nurse at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and statewide President of PASNAP.

Workplace violence against health professionals is on the rise both in frequency and severity, and for the past year PASNAP has been advocating against this disturbing trend. Last winter, the statewide union of registered nurses and health care professionals held three conferences in order to educate health workers about the growing issue and to begin to address how to resolve it.

“Our health care professionals work tirelessly to help protect and care for individuals when they are at their most vulnerable, and we have an obligation to make sure they are able to do their jobs in an environment that is free of the threat of violence. It was my honor to help craft this legislation, and I am hopeful it will will move swiftly through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk to be signed into law,” stated Mr. Micozzie.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in Washington, DC, released data on November 9th, 2011 that shows the incidence rate for health care support workers that require days away from work because of nonfatal occupational injuries increased 6 percent in 2010.

There were 283 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, almost 2 1/2 times the rate for all private and public sector workers at 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. The rate among nursing aids, orderlies and attendants rose 7 percent, to 489 per 10,000 workers. Also the rate of musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aids, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent to a rate of 249 cases per 10,000 workers.

“It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness,” stated OSHA’s Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels.

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