Rhode Island Healthcare Workers Get More Protection

Workers now have procedures to file complaints in the event of an assault or other illegal behavior

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor, Facility Market
August 3, 2021

Front-line workers and those working out of the public eye in healthcare facilities put themselves at great risk every day — particularly during the pandemic — for the sake of public health and safety. Unfortunately, violence and harassment is one of those workplace dangers. One state now is taking action to offer better protection to these workers.

Hospital workers have more protection from harassment and violence while on the job, thanks to a bill recently signed into law in Rhode Island, according to Patch. Under the legislation, hospital employees now have established procedures to file complaints with the hospital or Department of Health in the event of an assault or other illegal behavior that happens on hospital grounds. It also requires that individual hospitals develop plans to respond to violence, ensure employee safety and implement safety training for employees.

The new law, recently signed by Gov. Dan McKee, will go into effect Jan. 15, 2022.

The United Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union representing nurses, technologists, therapists, pharmacists, mental health workers and support staff, told lawmakers that physical and mental abuse has been on the rise. Most of the time, these incidents go unreported and are never addressed. A survey of union members working in hospitals found that nearly half of units had an incident that required intervention by the police. About 64 percent of members said they sometimes felt unsafe at work, while about 68 percent said they had personally witnessed violence while on the job.

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