MHA Endorses Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation

The caregiving professions are extraordinarily rewarding – but also extraordinarily difficult. And at times hospital employment can be dangerous as caregivers can face environmental risk and violence from the public. Massachusetts hospitals – through enhanced security protocols, sharing of best-practice violence prevention strategies, design of workplaces, and more – have attempted to keep patients and workers safe.

But now, MHA is filing legislation to etch into law rules to help foster safer hospital workplaces. The proposed legislation directs the Department of Public Health to develop statewide standards for evaluating and addressing security risks within hospitals. Hospitals will document compliance with the standards, and file and regularly update their operational risk assessment policies with DPH.

MHA’s proposal will also ensure improved information-sharing between the healthcare and public safety communities, and strengthens penalties against those convicted of crimes against healthcare personnel. It will also take steps to support victims of workplace violence through the legal process.

The bill reflects recommendations made by MHA’s Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention workgroup, a multidisciplinary selection of healthcare clinicians, operations and security staff from hospitals throughout Massachusetts brought together to find actionable solutions to workplace violence in healthcare settings. The workgroup’s efforts have been inspired by Elise Wilson and her employer, Harrington Hospital, whose individual and collective responses to Ms. Wilson’s brutal workplace attack demonstrated both strength and a deep commitment to making timely, concrete improvements to hospital worker safety.

“Those in the caregiving professions perform extraordinarily difficult work on behalf patients, and their jobs are filled with daily emotional stresses,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh. “We owe it to all who care for us to do our best to protect them as they go about their work.  Through adherence to proven violence-prevention standards and tracking compliance, providing senior support for in-house hospital incidents, enhancing penalties for violent acts committed against healthcare providers, and better sharing of information between the healthcare and public safety communities, we can help ensure the safety and well-being of our hospital workforce.”