By Kim Perkins, Emergency Department RN
Recently, I testified along with other front-line healthcare workers in Annapolis in support of the Maryland Safe Care Act. We testified before the House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee about what all us in health care know to be true: we are too vulnerable to violence in our workplaces.
The Maryland Safe Care Initiative is working to pass legislation to give employees and management the tools we need to decrease workplace violence. The bill would have held management accountable for reporting incidences and formulating a joint plan of action to avoid further violence.
Testifying alongside my peers and sharing our experiences made me even more convinced of how important it is to address healthcare workplace violence.
The Maryland Safe Care Act would cost the state almost nothing to implement and has four pillars, all of which are promoted as best practices by OSHA:
- An annual comprehensive violence risk-assessment and regular recordkeeping
- Workplace violence prevention committees
- Annual violence prevention training and education
- A post-incident response system
We Still Need the Safe Care Act
Unfortunately, our bill didn’t move out of committee this year, after it faced strong opposition from Maryland’s largest long-term care employer associations (LifeSpan Network and HFAM).
We are undeterred; we will continue our work to build awareness of the problem and gather support for the Safe Care Act.
In 2010, healthcare and social assistance workers made up just 16% of Maryland’s workforce but accounted for 62% of workplace violence incidents that resulted in at least one day away from work. The statistics show what we know to be true as healthcare workers – that we are too often placed in harm’s way, and something must be done about it.