NEW YORK NURSE: October/November 2008
Q.: I remember a law going into effect regarding workplace violence in the public sector. To date, I still don’t see any difference in my work environment. What was this law supposed to do?
A.: The law, the “New York State Workplace Violence Prevention Act,” was signed on June 7, 2006, and became effective on Oct. 5, 2006. It was an amendment to the state Labor Law and required public employers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence.
Specifically, an employer must evaluate the workplace to determine the presence of factors or situations that might place employees at risk of occupational assaults and homicides. NYSNA and other labor unions have had input into the regulations governing this law, which encourage employers to use employee committees to help identify those risks.
An employer with 20 or more employees is required to develop and implement a written workplace violence prevention program. Several items must be included in the plan. One of the most important is that the employer must provide training in conflict resolution and nonviolent self-defense responses. Training also must include measures employees can take to protect themselves and the specific procedures employers have implemented to protect employees.
Employers in the public sector that are not in compliance with this law may find that the state Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH) will intervene and mandate compliance. Employees who believe their employer is not in compliance should document the non-compliance issues, bring them to the attention of the employer, and request a plan and timeline for compliance. If the employer fails to comply with the law, employees have the right to file a complaint with PESH.
For more information go to www.labor.state.ny.us and search for the words “workplace violence prevention.”
The NYSNA EGW Program receives many inquiries each month from members who have problems in their workplaces. If you have a question about labor relations at your facility, contact your NYSNA nursing representative. If you have a question you think should be featured in this column, send it to: RNs at Work, NYSNA, 120 Wall Street, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.