New laws boost protection against workplace violence

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CSEA members employed in direct care or in secure treatment facilities now have more protection from workplace assaults.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed separate bills that increase the legal penalties for assaulting people employed in secure treatment facilities, as well as non-nursing direct care workers. CSEA had strongly supported both bills.

“Our members face the potential of assault or other violent situations in the course of their duties every day, and workplace assault is one of the most frequent causes of serious injuries to public employees,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “Under these laws, there are now stronger penalties against anyone who assaults public employees who deliver these vital services. It’s an important step in the right direction to protect workers, who need and deserve the same level of protection that other workers have.”

The new law covering secure treatment center facilities makes it a felony to assault another person in a secure treatment facility.

While state law had already had increased penalties against anyone who assaults law enforcement officers, emergency workers, school employees and transit workers, that law did not cover workers in secure treatment facilities, such as those across the state in which CSEA members work. This law extends that coverage to secure treatment facility workers, who face frequent threats of violence from violent offenders who are confined to these facilities.

The legislation for non-nursing direct care workers amends an earlier statute that excluded these workers from provisions that increased penalties for assaulting other health care workers, including nurses.

Direct care staff, who comprise a large number of workers at many health care facilities, are in direct contact with
patients and visitors every day and risk exposure to potential violence from patients and visitors.

The new law increases the penalty for assaulting direct care workers to assault in the second degree, which is a felony under state law and the same level of penalty as that of nurses.

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