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Nurses Decrying Workplace Violence Flood CAL/OSHA Board Meeting in Pasadena City Hall

Published on Thursday, July 16, 2015 | 1:39 pm

Unions representing nurses and hotel workers flooded the State of California’s CAL/OSHA Board special meeting at Pasadena’s City Hall on Thursday.

Meeting for the first time in Pasadena in several years, several Pasadena organizations took the opportunity to address two pending legislative measures with the standards board of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA.

More than 50 nurses and health workers stood with the Pasadena union, Members of the Nurses Alliance of California, as well as Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to voice their opposition to a “watered-down” draft of long-awaited regulation about preventing violence in the workplace.

The board responded to the activists, saying that they would act urgently to revise the definition of violence especially pertaining to whether a nurse employee experiences intimidation at the work place.

“We represent 750,000 workers in the state who don’t have the privilege to report intimidation as a form of violence in the work place,” Richard Negri, Health & Safety Director at SEIU 121RN said.

The nurses’ groups say more than 19,000 healthcare workers report being assaulted annually or one every 30 minutes.

Between 2011 and 2013, workplace assaults ranged from 23,540 and 25,630 annually, with 70 to 74 percent occurring in healthcare and social service settings according to Bureau of Labor Statistics quoted by OSHA.

“A lot of people don’t realize the extent of violence that healthcare workers face on the job every day,” Sarah Springer of the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California said.

Drafting a regulation that addresses all stakeholders is urgent since SB 1299 put forward by Secretary of State Senator Alex Padilla was signed by the governor last year mandating the regulation be in place by June 2016.

“What we worked on for a couple of years and were made to believe would be put forward in this regulation has been interrupted by what appears to be a political maneuvering by one stakeholder in the process, the California Hospital Association,” Negri said. “Now is not the time to water it down especially when we’ve all come out and talked about the things that we experienced.”

Several activists and union workers also represented the safety of hotel housekeepers during public comment at the meeting.

Lifting beds with one arm while changing sheets and exposure to the sexual harassment were some of the largest concerns.

“You have very rich people expose themselves to the women because they bring a lot of money to the hotel,” Jorge Cabrera of SoCAL COSH, Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health.

The union, which represents over 20,000 workers in Sothern California wants hotel house keeping jobs to be safe in the State of California and asked that Cal OSHA move quickly with the revised discussion standard by August 1.

“I watched my own cousin Loretta come home from her hotel house keeping job, suffering several injuries. Simple solutions exist to make hotel house keeping jobs safer,” Reverend Tera Little from the Universalist Church in Pasadena said.

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