Lone Worker Safety Gets a Boost from Congress

For many businesses, lone worker safety has been is top of mind. Organizations who have employees that often work alone or in dangerous environments must mitigate the chance of an accident or other safety issue to protect their people—and their business. Many other organizations—including hospitals and healthcare providers—have traditionally focused more on patient care than employee care, but that’s all about to change.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue new standards requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and protect employees from violent incidents and assaults at work.

“Workplace assaults against nurses, health care professionals, and social service workers occur more often than in any other profession,” said Congressman Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced the bill. “These are some of the same people we depend on to take care of us when we need it most, and they shouldn’t have to fear for their own lives while they’re at work trying to save ours.”

A 2016 study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that at rates of violence against health care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70 percent of non-fatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the health care and social assistance sectors. The study raised eyebrows in the healthcare industry and the halls of Congress, and ultimately led to the passage of Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.  

The bill, which will still have to pass the Senate to become law, compels employers to do the following:

  • Investigate workplace violence incidents, risks, or hazards as soon as practicable;

  • Provide training and education to employees who may be exposed to workplace violence hazards and risks;

  • Meet record keeping requirements; and

  • Prohibit acts of discrimination or retaliation against employees for reporting workplace violence incidents, threats, or concerns.

The new bill—officially H.R. 1309 until it passes the Senate—is a big leap forward in the recognition of the dangers that many workers, healthcare and other, face in their jobs. And while it may be impossible to make every workplace 100 percent danger-free, there are plenty of simple and affordable actions that organizations can take to protect their lone workers, and other workers who may face dangerous environments in their work. It starts with a thorough audit of safety risks, and good plan to mitigate them.

Utilizing Technology to Improve Worker Safety

There are a variety of technology-driven worker safety solutions that can help healthcare organizations and others who have workers that may encounter dangerous situations or environments. SolusGuard offers one such solution—a panic button and app-based safety platform.

The SolusGuard solution features a panic button device that is discreet, lightweight, comfortable and wearable as a pendant or belt loop. When a worker triggers the SolusGuard panic button, it not only gives off a loud alarm that will stop assaults in progress, but it automatically calls a predetermined list of contacts, and if they don’t answer, the system calls 911.

The SolusGuard solution can also help healthcare organizations with some of the new regulations proposed by H.R. 1309—particularly the need to keep records of safety incidents. SolusGuard’s Dashboard & Incident Reporting feature keeps logs and generates reports to help with both compliance and safety audits.

Protecting your employees, whether they are healthcare workers, warehouse workers or a variety of other positions that leave people exposed to potentially dangerous situations, is essential—and may soon be legally required.

Learn more about how SolusGuard helps employers keep their workers, and their business, safe. Contact us for a consultation today.