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Workplace violence

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These photos of WSNA nurses show injuries from punching, biting and choking attacks.

Credit: The Washington Nurse Magazine, Winter 2019 edition

Nurses should not have to risk their personal safety just to do their jobs of giving patients the very best care. #

Yet, nurse abuse and violence against nurses is a growing problem across the nation. According to the American Nurses Associ­a­tion, 1 in 4 nurses has been assaulted at work. The likeli­hood of health care workers being exposed to violence is higher than prison guards or police officers.

We advocate for stronger workplace violence protection laws at the state level and partner with ANA on efforts to raise awareness and implement better policies at the federal level.

Legislation and policy #

We work with state legislators to ensure the strongest possible protections for nurses.

Recent achievements include:

2019 Workplace Violence in Health Care bill, which updates workplace violence provisions related to planning and training in Washington’s workplace violence in health care law.

Read about the law


To learn more about what’s going on at the federal level, visit the American Nurses Association’s #EndNurseAbuse page.

Research and resources #

Government agencies and organizations at the state and federal levels have researched and developed best practices for addressing violence in the workplace. We’ve gathered the most useful resources to help you understand the issue, advocate for safer workplaces and protect yourselves.

Learn more

Latest news #

Tips for nurses to prepare for an active shooter

Maintaining situational awareness, reviewing your facility’s emergency response plans, and participating in trainings and drills can and will make a difference for nurses in the event of an active shooter incident.


What does professional activism look like?

Professional activism is the engagement of skilled and competent professionals utilizing strategic campaigning to achieve a goal. In nursing, it is nurses coming together to assess a need and identify the problem, design and implement a plan to address the issue, evaluate that plan, and repeat until the problem is solved.


Incident (occurrence) reporting: a cornerstone for safety and quality improvement

Incident reporting is a powerful source of information. When used effectively, it provides a factual description of an adverse event or near miss that supports learning, safety and improved care quality. Most health care entities utilize an electronic incident reporting system to identify opportunities for improvement.


Can a nurse walk off the job to protest unsafe working conditions?

As a general matter, the law does not afford employees the right to walk off the job because of unsafe conditions in the workplace. However, a situation may arise in which a nurse is confronted with an immediate choice between not performing an assignment or being subjected to a real risk of serious injury or death arising from a…


On-the-job injury: What you need to know

Each employer has a duty to provide a workplace that is free of known dangers that may harm employees. Like all workers, you have the right to working conditions that are free of known health and safety hazards.


State cites and fines St. Joseph Medical Center Tacoma for serious safety violations

Press release

The state Department of Labor and Industries on April 11 cited and fined St. Joseph Medical Center Tacoma for safety violations related to a series of attacks on nurses at the hospital. L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health launched an investigation at the request of WSNA after a patient in the psychiatric unit…


How healthy and safe is your workplace?

Have you ever experienced a violent incident or assault at work? Is needed personal protective equipment (PPE) readily accessible? Is lift equipment for safe patient handling available on each acute care unit? WSNA’s Health and Safety Survey is a critical first step in making your workplace safer and healthier.


OSHA considers health care workplace violence standard, requests comments

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is considering whether to develop a new standard to prevent workplace violence in health care and social-assistance settings. The agency has issued a public Request for Information on the extent and nature of workplace violence in the industry and the effectiveness and…


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