Creating safe and welcoming workplaces is one of our highest priorities—for our members, their families and the communities we serve. Our nurses and health industry workers are on the frontlines every day caring for the sick, the elderly and the mentally ill, and there is no reason they should be scared to go into work, fearing for their own safety. Thanks to the AFL-CIO’s report, we can see that the notion of workplace violence being random and unavoidable is simply not true. In 2017, 275 workers died each day from hazardous working conditions. This issue is not only serious, it’s also common, and we have the power to do something about it. As a union of healthcare professionals, educators and public employees, we welcome all efforts to make workplace-safety regulations federal, enforceable and trackable, so injuries and fatalities on the job are far less common.
Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT member Barbara Walsh, a nurse in New Jersey who has been assaulted on the job several times, said: “In my 16-year nursing career, I have been assaulted three times while caring for patients. Our medical facilities should set the standard for workplace protections, not lag behind every other industry when it comes to protecting our professionals and offering a clear protocol for keeping them safe. Workplace assaults have ended the careers of too many nurses, left them seriously injured, or forced them out of the profession. We must take better care of the people who care for others.