PRINTER'S NO. 217
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
255
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY DINNIMAN, BREWSTER, MENSCH, BROWNE AND YUDICHAK,
FEBRUARY 7, 2019
REFERRED TO LABOR AND INDUSTRY, FEBRUARY 7, 2019
AN ACT
Providing for violence prevention committees in health care
facilities, for powers and duties of committee, for remedies
and for powers and duties of Department of Labor and
Industry.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Heath Care
Facilities Violence Prevention Act.
Section 2. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Committee." The violence prevention committee established
by a health facility under this act.
"Department." The Department of Labor and Industry of the
Commonwealth.
"Employee." An individual who is employed by a health
facility, the Commonwealth or a political subdivision who is
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involved in direct patient care or clinical care services.
"Health facility." A hospital, long-term care nursing
facility or home health care agency as those terms are defined
under the act of July 19, 1979 (P.L.130, No.48), known as the
Health Care Facilities Act.
"Program." A workplace violence prevention program
established by a committee.
"Workplace violence." Violence or the threat of violence
against workers.
Section 3. Violence prevention committee.
(a) Establishment.--A health facility shall establish a
violence prevention committee to establish, review, administer
and provide guidance about a program relating to the prevention
of workplace violence at the health facility.
(b) Membership.--A committee shall be comprised as follows:
(1) At least one member of the committee who shall
represent management or a designee, who shall oversee all
aspects of the program.
(2) At least 50% of the members of the committee shall
have direct patient care responsibilities, with the majority
being licensed nurses.
(3) The remaining members of the committee shall have
experience, expertise or responsibility relevant to violence
prevention or any other expertise that is considered
beneficial to the committee.
(4) The committee shall have a proportional
representation by union members, selected by their union, and
nonunion members elected by secret ballots by their peers.
The proportional representation shall incorporate all health
care professionals and support personnel at the health
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facility at risk of becoming a victim of a violent act.
(5) In the case of a health care system that is subject
to a collective bargaining agreement, the contractual
agreement shall designate the number of union members to
serve on the committee as well as the number of
representatives from management. The agreement shall also
account for individuals who are employed by the health care
system, but not a member of a union or management.
(c) Operation of committee and program.--In the case of a
health care system that owns or operates more than one covered
health facility, the committee and program may be operated at
the system or department level, if:
(1) Committee membership includes at least one health
care worker from each facility who provides direct care to
patients.
(2) The committee develops a violence prevention plan
for each facility.
(3) Data related to violence prevention remains
distinctly identifiable for each facility.
Section 4. Duties of committee.
(a) Risk assessment evaluation.--A committee shall annually
perform a risk assessment evaluation of the factors that may put
an employee of a health facility at risk of workplace violence.
Those factors shall include:
(1) Working in public settings.
(2) Guarding or maintaining property or possessions.
(3) Working in high-crime areas.
(4) Working late at night or early in the morning.
(5) Using commuter lots that are not adequately lit or
frequently patrolled.
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(6) The existence of uncontrolled public access to the
workplace.
(7) Working in public areas with individuals in crisis.
(8) Working in areas where a patient or resident may
exhibit violent behavior.
(b) Review.--The committee shall meet quarterly to review
any case of workplace violence and to perform duties required by
this act.
(c) Preparation of report and establishment of program.--A
committee shall:
(1) Prepare a report from the risk assessment and
establish a violence prevention program. If there is more
than one health facility within a system, there shall be a
program established for each health facility.
(2) Develop and maintain a detailed, written violence
prevention plan that identifies workplace risks and provides
specific methods to address them.
(3) Distribute the written violence prevention plan to
those employees who are identified to be at risk for
workplace violence or any other employee who requests the
risk assessment report.
(4) Make the risk assessment report available to the
public upon the proper request.
(5) Establish a method to expedite reporting and review
of a report of workplace violence and make written
recommendations to the health facility management on how to
prevent additional incidents of similar workplace violence.
(d) Employee training.--The committee shall provide
appropriate employee training to all health care providers who
provide direct patient care at the time of hire and annually
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thereafter.
Section 5. Reporting of workplace violence.
(a) Duty to report.--An employee of a health facility who
reasonably believes that an incident of workplace violence has
occurred shall report the occurrence of the incident in
accordance with the violence prevention plan of the health
facility unless the employee knows a report has already been
made. The report shall be made immediately or as soon thereafter
as reasonably practicable, but in no event later than 24 hours
after the occurrence or discovery of the incident.
(b) Whistleblower protection.--An employee of a health
facility who reports the occurrence of an incident of workplace
violence in accordance with subsection (a) may not be subject to
retaliatory action for reporting the serious event or incident
as specified in the act of December 12, 1986 (P.L.1559, No.169),
known as the Whistleblower Law.
(c) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be
construed to limit a health facility's ability to take
appropriate disciplinary action against an employee for failure
to meet defined performance expectations or to take corrective
action against an employee for unprofessional conduct, including
making false reports or failure to report serious events under
this section.
Section 6. Distribution of reports of workplace violence.
A report of workplace violence that is submitted to
management or to the health facility shall be provided to the
committee within 72 hours of the submission of the report.
Section 7. Penalties.
(a) Administrative fine.--The department may levy an
administrative fine on a health facility or employer that
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violates this act or any regulation issued under this act. The
fine shall be not less than $100 nor greater than $1,000 for
each violation.
(b) Administrative order.--The department may order a health
facility to take an action which the department deems necessary
to correct a violation of section 4.
(c) Administrative agency law.--This section is subject to 2
Pa.C.S. Chs. 5 Subch. A (relating to practice and procedure of
Commonwealth agencies) and 7 Subch. A (relating to judicial
review of Commonwealth agency action).
Section 8. Remedies.
(a) Judicial relief.--
(1) If a health facility has engaged in conduct that
caused or maintained a substantial risk of further workplace
violence, including failing to implement the recommendations
of a committee, an aggrieved party may commence an action
with the court of common pleas of the county in which the
health facility is located.
(2) The court may enjoin the health facility from
engaging in the illegal activities and may order any other
relief that is appropriate, including reinstatement of an
employee, removal of the offending party from the employee's
work environment, reimbursement for lost wages, medical
expenses, compensation for emotional distress and attorney
fees.
(b) Administrative relief.--
(1) If a committee of a health facility concludes that
the health facility is not acting in good faith in
implementing the recommendations of the committee, the
committee, by vote of a majority of the members, may appeal
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the health facility's decision to the department.
(2) If the department after a hearing determines the
health facility is acting in bad faith and failing to
implement safety recommendations suggested by the committee,
the department may implement penalties against the health
facility, including appropriate fines and administrative
penalties.
Section 9. Effect on collective bargaining agreements.
This act may not be construed to:
(1) Supersede any current provision of an employee's
existing collective bargaining agreement that provides
greater rights and protection than prescribed by this act.
(2) Prevent any new provisions of a collective
bargaining agreement that provide greater rights and
protections from being implemented and applicable to an
employee.
Section 10. Rules and regulations.
The department shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to
implement this act. The rules and regulations shall include
guidelines as the department deems appropriate regarding
workplace violence prevention programs required under this act
and related to reporting and monitoring systems and employee
training.
Section 11. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 180 days.
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