‘A sigh of relief’ | Texas nurses pass workplace violence prevention bill

Senate Bill 240 would provide new solutions to stop workplace assaults and protections for those who report workplace violence.

AUSTIN, Texas – Nurses in Texas can breathe a sigh of relief after the passage of Senate Bill 240, which will protect healthcare workers from workplace violence.

Texas Nurses Association (TNA) officials said that compared to the average number of nurses in Texas, about half of them will be subjected to some sort of physical violence at some point in their careers.

“This is an extremely high number. Another thing that I think helps put this into perspective is that there is national research showing that health care workers and nurses in particular are about four times more likely to be subjected to to physical violence in the workplace than any other profession,” said Jack Frazee, director of government affairs at TNA.

Frazee said TNA has been trying to work on policies to reduce violence for about a decade.

SB 240 would provide nurses with a more active role in developing facility policies, retaliation protections, and more. It would require facilities to create a committee that reviews hospital policies and practices related to workplace violence prevention and creates a plan for the facility to follow.

“It makes it clear that these are protected communications and that employers have no recourse against people exercising those rights. Also, the state advises and supervises all of these things. So if a facility for some reason does not follow the law , then they could be subject to state sanctions,” Frazee said.

Prior to the passage of this bill, hospitals were not required to have any type of workplace violence prevention program, plan, or training.

During this legislative session, Mary Vitullo, the current general manager of TNA, said that there has been a lot of focus on nursing. Vitullo believes this is a result of nurses advocating for their profession to protect themselves at work.

“We had [over] 400 nurses traveled to the Capitol and spoke with their representatives and senators to let them know that workplace violence is a very real part of their jobs right now. We have to put protections and protect the nurses,” Vitullo said.

Officials said going forward, this will help nurses feel safer and more comfortable at work and provide them with the protection they need.

“Because, right now, we’re facing a pretty significant nursing shortage and we need to do everything we can to promote the elimination of things like burnout and promote, you know, increase resiliency for nurses,” Vitullo said. “I think this bill will really help with that.”

TNA said it “applauds” State Representative Donna Howard and State Senator Donna Campbell for helping defend the bill.

SB 240 now heads to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature.

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