California Senator Alex Padilla has introduced a bill to address violence against workers at hospitals and health facilities.

Senate Bill 1299 would require hospitals to establish workplace violence prevention plans that evaluate staffing levels to determine if insufficient staffing contributes to a risk of violence, sufficiency of the security systems including the availability of security personnel, security risks associated with specific units, areas of the facility with uncontrolled access, late-night and early morning shifts, and employee security in areas surrounding the facility such as employee parking areas.

“Every hospital in California should establish violence prevention plans and put in place enhanced protections for their healthcare workers,” Padilla said.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in healthcare and social assistance settings are five times more likely to be the victim of a non-fatal assault or violent act than the average worker in all other occupations combined.

A 2007 report commissioned by the National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health came to the same conclusion and found that among California hospitals, hospital security is often uncoordinated and insufficient. Employee training programs rarely included review of violence trends within their specific hospital and few hospitals have effective systems to communicate about the presence of violent patients. Security programs and training were often less complete in psychiatric units than in emergency departments. Sixteen states have enacted laws aimed at addressing workplace violence against healthcare workers.