(Pittsburgh) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement today after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on actions needed to protect health care workers from workplace violence:
“Today, USW member and Certified Nursing Assistant John Bryan stood with members of Congress and his fellow health care workers to share his experience of violence at work that resulted in his broken arm.
“This new GAO report highlights what many of us already know, that the risk and severity of violence against health care workers is intensifying. For too long, USW members working in health care have lived with the knowledge that they could be a victim of violence just by doing their jobs. It affects health care workers in all job classifications and in all facilities.
“There is no nationwide standard to protect workers against violence, including acts or threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening and disruptive behavior. As a result, these incidents are underreported even as the frequency and severity is intensifying. Workers are forced to work with shrinking staff and resources, putting them and their patients in danger.
“Workplace violence is preventable. Health care workers can no longer accept that violence is just part of the job.
“It’s time for action to protect workers across the country at hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices, as well as those who provide health care in other locations. This report shows that comprehensive anti-violence programs can prevent and mitigate harm to workers and other patients. It’s time for an enforceable workplace violence prevention standard.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America, including more than 50,000 working in health care fields, such as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, paramedics, technicians, instructors, and others. USW members are also employed in many other industries including metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.