Murkowski, Sinema Bill Improves Workplace Safety for Social Workers and Health Professionals

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen workplace protections for social workers and behavioral and home health professionals. The Senators’ bipartisan Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act of 2019 establishes a grant program to fund workplace safety programs for social workers and health professionals, ensuring these public servants can continue doing their jobs safely.

“Unfortunately, violence in the workplace is on the rise in America with social workers and healthcare professionals facing disproportionate and alarming levels. These men and women have dedicated their lives to helping others, sometimes in dangerous and high-risk situations. We must ensure they have access to the necessary tools, training, and technology to keep themselves and others safe, as well as appropriate services to support employees that experience a violent or traumatic event,” said Murkowski. “Recognizing the need to address the safety and risk factors associated with these careers, I’m proud to help lead bipartisan legislation that will help states, as well as Tribes, provide critical safety measures to social workers, health workers, and human services professionals.”

“As a social worker, I’ve seen firsthand the critical roles that nurses, social workers, and other caseworkers serve in Arizona’s communities. Strengthening workplace safety shows our appreciation for social workers and health professionals and will help recruit and retain qualified specialists to serve vulnerable Arizona families,” said Sinema.

“The congressional sponsors of the Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act of 2019 recognize the dangers that too many social workers and health professionals face on the job. Whether they work in office settings or out in the community, these vitally important professionals deserve to be free of verbal and physical assault. This legislation will go a long way towards providing the safe workplaces, which benefits not only social workers but their clients, who are best served in violence-free settings,” said Kathryn Conley Wehrmann, PhD, MSW, LCSW, President, NASW.

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that health and social service workers were nearly five times more likely to suffer a serious workplace violence injury than workers in other sectors. The Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act of 2019 establishes a grant program for social, health, and human service professionals within the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the implementation of state and tribal workplace safety programs. Specifically, the grants will be used for safety equipment, safety training, and technical assistance to track violence incidence rates and the efficacy of workplace safety programs.

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