MHA’s priority legislation on workplace safety was the subject of a hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development last Tuesday.
S1093: An Act Requiring Health Care Facilities to Develop & Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence would require Massachusetts to develop and monitor new statewide standards for evaluating and addressing security risks in hospitals, and would require hospitals to implement safety programs – including employee trainings – based on the new standards. It would also require: a written violence prevention plan developed in conjunction with employees; an in-house crisis response team for employee-victims of workplace violence; regular reporting of all assault and assault and battery incidents to the Department of Public Health and local district attorneys; and a process to facilitate more robust information sharing between healthcare providers and public safety officials. The proposal will allow increased penalties to be imposed on those who assault caregivers, and establishes support for employees who are pursuing legal action related to violent incidents.
The bill’s primary sponsor is Sen. Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester). The House version of the bill (H1976), sponsored by Rep. Michael J. Moran (D- Boston), is slated to be taken up by the Joint Committee on Public Health later this year.
“Hospitals throughout the commonwealth have well-established, stringent policies and procedures in place to address workplace violence, with oversight from state and federal accreditation bodies and regulators,” MHA said in a statement. “These efforts are constantly updated to reflect the latest input from safety and enforcement experts and best practices from around the nation, and these ongoing efforts – including consideration of additional tools such as those required under S1093 – are both necessary and appropriate.”
Working with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety, Massachusetts hospitals have adopted staff training programs designed to de-escalate security situations before they erupt. In addition, hospitals continue to enhance workplace injury and violence event reporting, including routine debriefing with senior management on incidents and support for employees. These collective efforts are all aimed at continually improving hospital policies, practices, and supportive outreach in an era of constantly evolving threats.