With Workers Memorial Day On Horizon, Nurses Vow to Keep Fighting for Highest Level of Protections

On April 28, 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, governing workers’ right to a healthy and safe workplace, went into effect. April 28 is now an annual Workers Memorial Day, when we remember those who have been injured, or who have lost their lives, on the job. It’s a day when we underscore the need to ensure comprehensive, mandatory protections for workers.

National Nurses United has fought — and continues to lead the fight — for nurses’ health and safety. For example, as of April 1, California healthcare employers are legally required to have a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan in place, thanks to nation-leading workplace violence legislation and regulations nurses fought for and won in California.

We are also championing federal workplace violence prevention legislation, which is closely modeled on the Cal/OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Standard, in order to protect nurses across the country.

And because nurses know that what’s good for the healthcare workplace is good for all workplaces, we are fighting to enact these strong protections across industries, for all workers.

While celebrating these health and safety wins, the losses we have mourned on the way to enacting better protections are never far from our hearts, including our sister Cynthia Palomata, RN, who died in 2010 when a patient struck her in the head. We will always stand up and keep fighting for RNs like Brandy Welch, who suffered a permanent injury when a patient threw a chair at her in 2013.

For Workers Memorial Day 2018, we pay homage to all of the nurses and other workers whose stories highlight the importance of standing up — strong, loud, and as long as necessary — to secure the highest level of protections to keep workers safe.

We honor our fellow workers by renewing our commitment to continue:

· Ensuring nurses’ right to organize, so we can advocate collectively for the health and safety of nurses and patients. This is especially critical now, in light of the recently argued case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, intended to weaken public sector unions. We know that empowered, union employees keep our hospitals safe for nurses and patients.

· Protecting nurses across America by moving forward federal healthcare workplace violence prevention legislation, the Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act, HR 5223 — introduced in March by Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17).

· Ensuring California healthcare employers are following workplace violence prevention legislation in that state.

· Standing up for national safe staffing ratios, with NNU-sponsored bills introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (S.1063) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (H.R. 2392). This critical legislation setting specific safety limits on the numbers of patients RNs can care for at once at hospitals across the U.S. currently has 46 co-sponsors in the house and three in the senate.

· Fighting for safe patient handling regulations, in an industry with extremely high rates of musculoskeletal injuries.

· Prohibiting employer policies and practices which discourage nurses from reporting workplace hazards and injuries.

· Standing in solidarity with workers in other industries, as they fight for their own workplace protections.

Join us in our fight to protect nurses, on Workers Memorial Day and every day!

Click here to sign up for NNU’s Nurses Health and Safety Campaign, a network of nurses and allies, committed to collectively advocating for nurse health and safety.

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