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California Nurses Association Welcomes New Workplace Violence Regulations

"This is a landmark day for the entire country, as California has now set the bar with the strongest workplace violence regulation in the nation," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of health and safety for CNA/NNU. "Today is a huge victory."

The California Nurses Association welcomed the approval on Oct. 20 of new regulations intended to prevent workplace violence in hospitals. The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted unanimously to approve them; they resulted from 2014 legislation, SB 1299, that was sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

"This is a landmark day for the entire country, as California has now set the bar with the strongest workplace violence regulation in the nation," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of health and safety for CNA/NNU. "CNA nurses worked for years to achieve the passage of SB 1299 and have continued to push for the development of these regulations, contributing their expertise at advisory committees and public hearings, and doing everything possible to ensure that healthcare workers get the protections they deserve. Today is a huge victory."

"All the nurses in this room either know someone or have themselves experienced physical violence, threats, and assault while on the job," CNA Co-president Deborah Burger, RN, testified. "They all experience the fear and frustration of knowing that the procedures their employers have in place are not enough to prevent violent acts from occurring or to respond adequately when they do."

The associate represents nearly 100,000 registered nurses in the state, and more than 100 CNA nurses attended the board's Oct. 20 hearing.

During an NSC 2016 keynote last week in Anaheim, Kumani Armstrong, special counsel to the director of California's Department of Industrial Relations, the parent agency of Cal/OSHA, said the rate of being victimized by violence at work is five times greater in health care and social assistance than in other industries. Armstrong said the state's proposed workplace violence regulations, once adopted by the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, will go to the Office of Administrative Law for ultimate implementation, and then Cal/OSHA will turn its attention to a violence prevention rule for general industry.

"I never expected to be injured; I work with children," said RN Brandy Welch, who was hurt when a teenage patient threw a chair that struck her. "But now I have an injury that will chase me my entire career and after retirement. Workplace violence should not be part of the job."

"One of the most important elements in preventing workplace violence is training," added Paula Lyn, an RN at Sutter's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. "Unfortunately, we know from experience that employers all too often treat training as an after-thought when it comes to health and safety issues. The most important goal of SB 1299 is to prevent physical harm from ever occurring in the first place. Today, the fear we face in the workplace is not just the fear that violent situations will arise, but the fear that we will not be prepared when they do. The inclusion of comprehensive and robust training requirements in these regulations is the best way to ensure that everyone is prepared."

The implementation process for the regulations will begin in January 2017.

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