H.R. 1309, Congress’s Workplace Violence Act, here is what you need to know

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As I write this blog post I am looking forward to a week away from work. Everyone needs time to rest, reflect, and invest in the things that matter most. Gratitude is the reason for this particular part of the season, and this year I feel a sincere since of gratitude. Each of you who take the time to read these few words are certainly a part of why I am grateful this year. Thank you.

There is some interesting news out of Washington as the House passed H.R. 1309: Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Services Workers Act. This is the first attempt by the U.S. Government to intercede in the violence epidemic against healthcare workers that has made any kind of official move forward. But, what is this bill really designed to do, and why do we need it?

H.R. 1309 has been in the works for 7 years now. Sponsored by Representative Joe Courtney (D), from Connecticut’s 2nd District, the bill would direct the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration to issue standards that require healthcare organizations to develop and implement comprehensive workplace violence (WPV) prevention plans (govtrack.us, 2019).

In addition to developing WPV prevention plans, the bill would also direct employers to investigate WPV incidents, provide training and education to employees, keep records and data associated to WPV incidents, and prohibit retaliation against employees who report WPV issues (congress.gov, 2019).

For those of us advocating for WPV prevention in healthcare, this seems like a major breakthrough, as we often encounter strong resistance when trying to implement these types of reforms within the industry. However, there are reasons to doubt this bill will pass the Senate and make it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. In fact, Govtrack.us (2019) only gives the bill a 34% chance of being enacted due to the lack of strong bi-partisan support for the bill.

Despite that prognosis, there is still a need for this type of regulatory oversight as the epidemic of violence grows, and the need for true cultural and industrial reform seems to be at an all time high. This is evident in the broad support for this type of legislation from organizations like the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) (Thew, 2019). The ENA and ANA have launched violence awareness programs titled No Silence on ED Violence and End Nurse Abuse respectively. These programs advocate for legislative action along with other reforms. These organizations represent the two largest nursing associations in the nation, and their members are demanding action on violence prevention now. 

Ultimately, to effect change there needs to be broad recognition of the importance of this effort by healthcare leaders. If regulations are needed to force healthcare organizations to change then that is an unfortunate reality. It is unfortunate that any organization would choose to be forced into active WPV prevention efforts instead of recognizing this epidemic of violence for what it is and working proactively to protect their staff.

What are your thoughts? Do we need this type of legislation? Do you think this bill would make a difference in the response to WPV in your facility? Are you going to reach out to your Senator to advocate for the bill? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Congress.gov. (2019). H.R.1309 – Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1309/cosponsors.

Govtrack.us. (2019). H.R. 1309: Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. Retrieved from: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr1309.

Thew, J. (2019). Workplace Violence Legislation Moves Forward. Retrieved from https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/nursing/workplace-violence-legislation-moves-forward.

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