Workplace Violence Protection Act: Illinois Hospitals And Healthcare Providers Face New Challenge

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Last August, the Healthcare Worker Violence Protection Act was signed into law by Illinois Governor Rauner. This law creates a new set of employee rights and obligations for healthcare providers in Illinois. Generally, this law is designed to provide personal safety to frontline healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses, and protect the rights of those who would raise or report safety concerns and assaults by expanding the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

This law also covers “custodial agencies” (prisons or other facilities taking care of persons in custody), and mandates that the agency give notice to the treating facility of significant concerns regarding the potential safety of the committed persons. Agencies must provide records and recent information regarding violent acts, provide medical records to the “greatest extent practicable” regarding these committed persons, and provide at least one guard trained in custodial escorting care when high-risk persons are committed to the facility.

Additionally, the law requires that healthcare providers post a notice prohibiting verbal aggression, stating it will not be tolerated, and inform employees that physical assault must be reported to law enforcement. Employers must offer “immediate post-incident services” for healthcare workers involved in workplace violence incidents.

Healthcare providers must also craft and implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Program compliant with OSHA guidelines for preventing workplace violence. The program must contain a classification of workplace violence, include a management commitment, and ensure worker participation in the program. A worksite analysis must  be conducted to identify potential hazards, as well as address prevention and control. Further, the program must incorporate specific health and safety training requirements with required hours, though the contours of those requirements and hours are yet to be determined. While this requirement is to have been implemented by healthcare providers by January 1, 2019, specific rules regarding certain aspects of its implementation have yet to be promulgated.

Healthcare providers should currently be working on compliance with the posting requirements, while training and human resources departments should begin crafting policies and training programs to be compliant with this Act. Husch Blackwell will continue to monitor developments and will keep you updated as rules and regulations are published and adopted.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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