We are reposting this piece that appeared on the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) website. UNAC/UHCP represents over 25,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners. UNAC/UHCP has been one of our strongest allies from the very beginning of the California Safe Care Standard campaign.
UNAC/UHCP members and allies took action before the Cal/OSHA Standards Board in Pasadena on July 16, 2015 to protest recently revised and significantly weakened workplace violence prevention regulations now under consideration for approval by the Board.
After five public advisory meetings at which there was general agreement about the definition of workplace violence and a standard had been developed through discussion, Cal/OSHA changed the definition of workplace violence and left off words like “harassment” and “intimidation.” Rather than use the language developed in a public and democratic forum, the Board’s leadership unilaterally removed powerful anti-bullying language previously included in draft regulations.
UNAC/UHCP members were out in full force on July 16, filling the meeting room at Pasadena City Hall with a sea of blue. As a representative spoke, members and allies stood in unity to send a strong message to the Standards Board that weakened regulations are harmful to health care providers, our patients, and the community.
“The verbal and physical intimidation that health care workers deal with is also workplace violence. Left unacknowledged, uninterrupted, and unregulated, this behavior can and does escalate into violence that involves physical force. We have to question why this is being omitted,” said Richard Negri, co-lead of the California Safe Care Standard campaign, as he spoke on behalf of the group.
Placards held by members showed a powerful image of a bruised up victim of workplace violence, with a message that “violence isn’t part of the job.” Our presence was felt and we made it clear that violence in health care settings is a real issue and watered down regulatory standards are unacceptable.