California's new healthcare workplace violence rule the strongest in nation

Healthcare workers gathering by a window in a hospital

Photo credit: Getty/Jochen Sands

A new rule in California will require hospitals and other health facilities to protect employees from abuse with violence prevention protocols--and the regulation is a model that could spread to other states.

The rule (.pdf), approved last week by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, could take effect as early as January, according to an article from Kaiser Health News published by National Public Radio.

The new regulation applies to private health facilities in California and requires them to perform site-specific violence assessments and include workers’ concerns and views in developing action plans. In recent years the California Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union have pushed for more to be done to prevent workplace violence in healthcare,

"This is a landmark day for the entire country," Bonnie Castillo, R.N., director of health and safety for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, told KHN. "California has now set the bar with the strongest workplace violence regulation in the nation.”

Healthcare workers are at particular risk for workplace assault, FierceHealthcare has previously reported, and the issue is underreported among staff. The article notes that research suggests that contributing factors to the growth in violence against healthcare workers can be traced to cuts in mental health services and an increase in elderly patients who may have potentially violent dementia.

Under the new law, hospitals would not be responsible for random acts of violence like mass shootings, according to KHN, but could be cited by OSHA if they do not follow protocols.