SB 240, also known as the Workplace Violence Prevention Act, has passed through the Texas State House and Senate and been signed into law effective September 1, 2023.
The bill comes in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) workplace violence guidelines, specifically targeting the healthcare industry. In 2022, the Texas Hospital Association (THA) released a statement regarding the need for better protections for healthcare workers. The THA defines workplace violence as “an act or threat occurring in the workplace that can include any of the following: verbal, nonverbal, written or physical aggression; threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating words or actions; bullying; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other threatening disruptive behaviors of concern involving staff/employees, licensed practitioners, patients, customers or visitors.”
The bill will require facilities to establish a workplace violence prevention committee, including at least one registered nurse who provides direct patient care. Additionally, the committee must include security personnel for the facility. This aims to ensure that individuals who know the facility well are designing the guidelines set in place.
The bill also requires facilities to review current violence prevention plans and establish a way for employees to contribute anonymously. The policies have to have clear processes to prevent retaliation if an employee reports a problem. Each facility must also provide a clear definition of workplace violence and annual training to prevent workplace violence.
Additionally, a healthcare facility has to have a plan in place for treating a patient with a known history of intentionally abusing and/or threatening healthcare providers. This may include not having staff working with the patient alone or having security personnel nearby.
The bill requires Texas healthcare facilities to be compliant to the guidelines by September 2024.