The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

10/29/2019 | News release | Archived content

Pennsylvania’s Workplace Safety Bills Continue to Advance as Health Care Worker Safety Remains in the Spotlight

October 29, 2019

As thousands of Pennsylvanians continue to urge lawmakers to pass a package of measures that would help make health care workers safer on the job, the message is being heard loud and clear. This week, Senate Bill 351, offered by Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair), and House Bill 1880, offered by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) both advanced through the legislative process.

Senate Bill 351-which would add all health care practitioners to a protected class in the event of an on-duty assault and increase the penalty-was passed by the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration. House Bill 1880-which allows health care workers to remove their last names from their facility identification badges-was passed by the House Health Committee and sent to the full House for consideration.

Both bills are part of a packageof bills advancing with bipartisan support and backed by Pennsylvania's hospital community to address growing concerns about the safety of health care workers in Pennsylvania.

In today's Pennsylvania Capital-Star, HAP President and CEO Andy Carter responded to strong legislative interest in the important issue, noting, 'The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently reported a 72 percent increase in the rate of workplace violence injuries in places like hospitals. Our legislative leaders encounter hundreds of issues each session, and sometimes consensus can be hard to reach. So, when plans come along that make sense and have bipartisan support, we sit up and take notice.'

Earlier this year, HAP hosted two legislative listening sessions during which Pennsylvania hospitals shared with lawmakers personal stories illustrating the urgent need for legislation to help improve workplace safety for health care workers.

Improving the workplace safety of Pennsylvania's health care workers remains a top priority for HAP. National data reveals an unsettling upward trend in violence against health care workers, who comprise only 13 percent of the United States workforce, yet 60 percent of workplace assaults occur in health care settings.

While hospitals follow workforce safety guidance, requirements, and best practices from The Joint Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and are engaging in individual measures to improve the safety of their staff, more action is needed.

If you haven't done so already, please take one minute to send a message to your lawmakers and ask them to support the proposals. Email your lawmakers today or text 'Healthy Me' to 52886.

For more information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP's vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Timothy Ohrum, HAP's vice president, grassroots advocacy.