Preventing Workplace Violence – Is It Time to Call OSHA?


A behavioral health facility in Colorado was recently fined nearly $12,000 and given 15 days to make the premises safe from workplace violence (WPV). The citation came from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found workplace hazards that exposed staff to physical threats and assaults by patients. The hazards were so great that nurses and other direct-care staff were experiencing concussions, broken skin, bruising, scratches, sprains and strains, and head injuries.

In the citation notice, OSHA ordered the employer to remove these hazards. Specific steps included implementing a comprehensive WPV prevention program, remodeling nurse stations, equipping staff with devices to call for help, continuously monitoring security cameras, and setting up procedures to notify affected staff of incidents and risks of WPV.

OSHA citations are somewhat rare for WPV issues that affect nurses, despite the fact that health care workers experience workplace violence at a rate 5-12 times higher than other workers. Nurse advocates would like to see stronger federal actions, which would reduce WPV hazards while driving employers voluntarily to adopt meaningful prevention programs.  ANA is supporting a bill in Congress that would require OSHA to develop enforceable standards specifically for WPV in health care. To tell your federal lawmakers why it’s so important they support this legislation, please click here.

As the citation in Colorado shows, however, OSHA is willing to use its general enforcement power when inspectors hear about egregious cases that risk workers’ lives and physical safety.

Does it have to go that far before something is done? No, certainly not.

Nurses are engaged everyday with co-workers and employers in efforts to prevent WPV. It is, after all, a nurse’s ethical duty to help foster an overall culture of safety and civility for everyone in a care setting. ANA has created a treasure trove of resources to support nurses who want to take a more active role in making their workplace safer.

Yet when a true culture of safety is not achieved, federal oversight may be necessary to prevent WPV. Nurses have a right to complain to OSHA about WPV incidents stemming from unsafe situations, as well other hazards. It’s best for complaints to be specific about existing hazards and name the workplace injuries or health impacts that have occurred. If you are thinking about filing an OSHA complaint, this brief Fact Sheet from ANA will tell you more about the process and link you to important information.

To learn more about what ANA is doing to #EndNurseAbuse, contact Policy and Government Affairs at

The Power of Hill Day


Every membership group has an iteration of “Hill Day,” “Legislative Conference,” or “Fly-in” where its members come to Washington, DC, to speak directly to their members of Congress on issues of importance to the association. Hundreds of members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) will be on Capitol Hill on June 20 for our annual Hill Day. This is a powerful experience and, in many ways, the most basic form of the democratic process. These constituents have the ability to schedule a meeting with their elected representatives or their staffs to discuss issues of importance to them and the association.

Members of Congress will always feel the weight of an issue when the constituent is able to make a personal connection and being able to draw upon those stories is quite effective. For nurses, this might be an instance where you have encountered workplace violence or a lack of resources to effectively perform your job for example.

With the 116th Congress a quarter of the way into its session, it has already been bombarded with special interest groups seeking to meet with members of Congress and their office staffs. These groups have been introducing themselves to freshman members of Congress while solidifying previous relationships with the more experienced lawmakers.

It is truly an incredible experience for nurses and nurse advocates to head up to Capitol Hill for the first time – as well as for those more experienced participants. When a constituent advocates on behalf of a cause they believe in and are passionate about, it empowers them to become more engaged politically and professionally. It enables a person to tangibly connect with their history, with the policies they are fighting for, and allows them to fulfill their civic duty of participating in democracy. Advocating for a cause on Capitol Hill provides citizens the platform to provide critical feedback to a lawmaker and serves as a check on the legislative branch by those it represents.

It is an especially important time for nurses and nurse advocates to take their experience and insights to Capitol Hill. There are many pieces of legislation impacting nurses and their patients gaining momentum in Congress. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R. 2150), and the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 728) are all being discussed by over 400 nurses making their way to Capitol Hill this week. To read more on these pieces of legislation, please visit RNAction. Nurses and nurse advocates must speak in a clear, united voice because when nurses speak, Washington listens. And regardless of the issue our members are advocating for, or whether it is called a fly-in or Hill Day, when you are advocating on behalf of your profession on an issue you care about, it is a powerful feeling. This communication makes a real impact on members and their staffs. We are excited for ANA’s upcoming Hill Day and look forward to the feedback our members will share about their experiences.

ANA Celebrates #Pride in Health Care


June is Pride Month and a chance to give colorful visibility to LGBTQ lives and relationships, celebrating inclusion, respect, and civil rights. To LGBTQ nurses, patients, caregivers, and allies – Happy #Pride!

ANA condemns discrimination in health care based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or expression. Experiencing any kind of discrimination, stigma, or disrespect from care providers is not just unpleasant. It can be traumatizing. It can lead people to hold back important information about their health or avoid seeking care altogether. These access barriers can lead to poor health outcomes.

Nursing advocacy plays a key role in promoting culturally congruent, patient-centered access for LGBTQ patients. To help you support Pride in health care this month and every month, we have rounded up some handy resources.

First, ANA’s Nursing Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Populations is a comprehensive statement and framework for improving culturally congruent care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) populations. The statement names barriers LGBTQ people often confront in health care, and the health disparities that result. ANA commits to addressing these concerns with a series of recommendations to defend and protect the human and civil rights of all members of LGBTQ populations.

Throughout the statement, it is clear there are many ways nurses can ensure positive experiences for LGBTQ patients and their families in the health care system, including through advocacy. There are also numerous links to helpful references if you want to learn more or share information about safeguarding access for LGBTQ populations.

One of those references is the National LGBT Health Education Center in the Fenway Institute. The Fenway Institute grew out of Fenway Health’s experience providing care to LGBTQ people in Boston, many of whom confront access barriers in local care delivery. The National LGBT Health Education Center offers education and advocacy programs that are grounded in the LGBT community, aiming to change the larger community. For example, the center’s website houses training materials and toolkits, and information on how to receive more in-depth technical assistance. These are valuable tools to make health care more inclusive and enable providers to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ patients.

Here are some additional resources to support LGBTQ patients and advocate to improve their care experience:

Happy #Pride!