By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is proposing to expand its ongoing evaluation of New Jersey legislation to prevent workplace violence in healthcare facilities. NIOSH is currently conducting a nurse survey at hospitals to examine the compliance and impact of the legislation. According to NIOSH the objective of the NIOSH study is: (1) to examine healthcare facility compliance with the New Jersey Violence Prevention in Health Care Facilities Act (Act), (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of the Act in reducing assault injuries to workers, and (3) to evaluate the assault injury rate. The long-term goal of the study is to reduce violence against healthcare workers.

NIOSH notes that “healthcare workers are nearly five times more likely to be victims of violence than workers in all industries combined. While healthcare workers are not at particularly high risk for job-related homicide, nearly sixty percent of all nonfatal assaults occurring in private industry are experienced in healthcare.”

This proposed revision of the NIOSH examination will add two new study groups: nursing homes, and home healthcare aides. NIOSH plans to conduct interviews with representatives of nursing homes who are in charge of overseeing the compliance efforts. The purpose of the interviews is to measure compliance with the state regulations. NIOSH will also conduct a home healthcare aide survey which will describe the workplace violence prevention training that home healthcare aides receive.

Based on preliminary research, NIOSH suggests that enactment of the regulations will improve the comprehensiveness of nursing home workplace violence prevention program policies, procedures and training. Also, that home healthcare aides receive at least eighty percent of the workplace violence prevention training components mandated in the New Jersey regulations. NIOSH concludes that the rates of assault injuries to nursing home workers will decrease following enactment of the regulations.