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Measure to protect health workers clears both chambers

Legislation aimed at reducing acts of violence against health-care workers is poised for final passage in Annapolis. Identical bills have passed the House and Senate that would require health-care facilities to conduct an annual risk assessment and document all violent workplace incidents. Annual training for staff and post-incident support for affected caregivers also would be mandated.

One chamber must pass the other's bill for it to go to the governor's desk for signature.

The legislation is the culmination of a push begun last year by workers seeking to reduce the number of assaults in Maryland hospitals and nursing homes. Though workers in the health care and social assistance industries make up less than 20 percent of the state's workforce, they are involved in 72 percent of all serious workplace assaults, according to reform advocates.

Nursing homes or hospitals are not now required to establish workplace violence prevention programs, and staff said they got little help with their concerns beyond an occasional individual training session.

The issue was highlighted last year by a report tallying 66 assaults in a 12-month period on staff members at Spring Grove Hospital Center, a state mental hospital in Catonsville.


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