Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act, which seeks to address the safety needs of social workers and health care professionals by establishing a grant program for social, health, and human service professionals within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund the implementation of state and tribal workplace safety programs. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.  

“Social workers and health service professionals provide critical care to vulnerable residents and families across the country every day, and we need to make sure we are taking care of them in return,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “I am honored to introduce this important bill that will put in place workplace safety programs to protect our social workers and health care professionals and ensure that we are collecting data on best practices. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Stefanik and with Senators Sinema and Murkowski pass this critical legislation.” 

“I am proud to co-lead this important bill to provide resources to social workers and health professionals, keeping them safer and protecting them in the workplace,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “Social workers do an important job and provide a wide range of services in increasingly complex environments and situations. Strengthening workplace safety will go a long way in recruiting and retaining qualified social workers and health service professionals in areas without direct service providers, including many areas of my district. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation forward.”

“As a social worker, I’ve seen firsthand the critical roles that nurses, social workers, and other caseworkers serve in Arizona’s communities. Strengthening workplace safety shows our appreciation for social workers and health professionals and will help recruit and retain qualified specialists to serve vulnerable Arizona families,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema. 

“Unfortunately, violence in the workplace is on the rise in America with social workers and healthcare professionals facing disproportionate and alarming levels. These men and women have dedicated their lives to helping others, sometimes in dangerous and high-risk situations. We must ensure they have access to the necessary tools, training, and technology to keep themselves and others safe, as well as appropriate services to support employees that experience a violent or traumatic event,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “This legislation will help states, as well as Tribes, provide critical safety measures to social workers, health workers, and human services professionals.”

Under the bill, grants could be used for: 

  • safety equipment (such as security cameras, GPS locators, and panic buttons)
  • safety training (including crisis management, de-escalation techniques, and self-defense)
  • technical assistance to track violent incidence rates and the efficacy of workplace safety programs

This legislation is supported by the National Association of Social Workers, Clinical Social Work Association, and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership. 

Learn more about the bill here.