Connecticut Seal

Substitute Senate Bill No. 970

Public Act No. 11-175

AN ACT CONCERNING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND RESPONSE IN HEALTH CARE SETTINGS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) (a) As used in this section, sections 2 and 3 of this act, and section 53a-167c of the general statutes, as amended by this act:

(1) "Health care employer" means any institution, as defined in section 19a-490 of the general statutes, with fifty or more full or part-time employees. Health care employer includes a facility for the care or treatment of mentally ill persons or persons with substance abuse issues, a residential facility for persons with intellectual disability licensed pursuant to section 17a-227 of the general statutes, and a community health center, as defined in section 19a-490a of the general statutes; and

(2) "Health care employee" means any individual directly or indirectly employed by, or serving as a volunteer for, a health care employer, who (A) is involved in direct patient care, or (B) has direct contact with the patient or the patient's family when (i) collecting or processing information needed for patient forms and record documentation, or (ii) escorting or directing the patient or the patient's family on the premises of the health care employer.

(b) On or before October 1, 2011, each health care employer shall establish and convene an ongoing workplace safety committee to address issues related to the health and safety of health care employees. A health care employer's workplace safety committee shall be composed of representatives from the administration; physician, nursing and other direct patient care staff; security personnel; and any other staff deemed appropriate by the health care employer. Not less than fifty per cent of the committee membership shall be composed of nonmanagement employees. The committee shall select a chairperson from among its membership. The committee shall meet not less than quarterly and shall make available meeting minutes and other records from its proceedings to all employees.

(c) On or before October 1, 2011, and annually thereafter, each health care employer shall undertake a risk assessment of the factors that put any health care employee at risk for being a victim of workplace violence. Based on the findings of the risk assessment, on or before January 1, 2012, and on or before each January first thereafter, each health care employer, in collaboration with the workplace safety committee, shall develop and implement a written workplace violence prevention and response plan. A hospital, as defined in section 19a-490 of the general statutes, may utilize an existing committee established by such hospital to assist in the preparation of the plan, provided not less than fifty per cent of the membership of such existing committee are nonmanagement employees. In developing the plan, the health care employer may consider any guidance on workplace violence issued by any government agency, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Public Health and the Labor Department, and any hospital accrediting organizations.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, a health care employer may satisfy the requirements for the establishment of a written workplace violence prevention and response plan by utilizing existing policies, plans or procedures if, after undertaking the risk assessment, the health care employer, in consultation with the workplace safety committee, determines that such employer's existing policies, plans or procedures are sufficient.

(e) A health care employer shall, to the extent practicable, adjust patient care assignments so that no health care employee who requests an adjustment to his or her patient care assignment is required to treat or provide services to a patient who the employer knows to have intentionally physically abused or threatened the employee. When adjusting patient care assignments, a health care employer shall give due consideration to the employer's obligation to meet the needs of all patients. Patient behavior that is a direct manifestation of the patient's condition or disability, including physical abuse or threatening behavior, shall not be considered intentional physical abuse or threatening of an employee. In situations where a health care employer has determined that an adjustment to a health care employee's patient care assignment is not practicable, any health care employee who has been physically abused or threatened by a patient may request of the employer that a second health care employee be present when treating such patient.

(f) The Labor Commissioner may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2011) A health care employer shall maintain records which detail incidents of workplace violence and include the specific area or department of the employer's premises where the incident occurred. A health care employer, upon the request of the Department of Public Health, shall report to the department the number of workplace violence incidents occurring on the employer's premises and the specific area or department where such incidents occurred.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2011) Except as provided in this section, a health care employer shall report to such employer's local law enforcement agency any act which may constitute an assault or related offense, as described in part V of chapter 952 of the general statutes, against a health care employee acting in the performance of his or her duties. A health care employer shall make such report not later than twenty-four hours after the occurrence of the act. The health care employer shall provide the names and addresses of those involved with such act to the local law enforcement agency. A health care employer shall not be required to report any act which may constitute assault or a related offense if the act was committed by a person with a disability as described in subdivision (13), (15) or (20) of section 46a-51 of the general statutes whose conduct is a clear and direct manifestation of the disability.

Sec. 4. Section 53a-167c of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2011):

(a) A person is guilty of assault of public safety, emergency medical, [or] public transit or health care personnel when, with intent to prevent a reasonably identifiable peace officer, special policeman appointed under section 29-18b, motor vehicle inspector designated under section 14-8 and certified pursuant to section 7-294d, firefighter or employee of an emergency medical service organization, as defined in section 53a-3, emergency room physician or nurse, health care employee as defined in section 1 of this act, employee of the Department of Correction, member or employee of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, probation officer, employee of the Judicial Branch assigned to provide pretrial secure detention and programming services to juveniles accused of the commission of a delinquent act, employee of the Department of Children and Families assigned to provide direct services to children and youths in the care or custody of the department, employee of a municipal police department assigned to provide security at the police department's lockup and holding facility, active individual member of a volunteer canine search and rescue team, as defined in section 5-249, or public transit employee from performing his or her duties, and while such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, health care employee, member, probation officer or active individual member is acting in the performance of his or her duties, (1) such person causes physical injury to such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, member, probation officer or active individual member, or (2) such person throws or hurls, or causes to be thrown or hurled, any rock, bottle, can or other article, object or missile of any kind capable of causing physical harm, damage or injury, at such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, member, probation officer or active individual member, or (3) such person uses or causes to be used any mace, tear gas or any like or similar deleterious agent against such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, member, probation officer or active individual member, or (4) such person throws or hurls, or causes to be thrown or hurled, any paint, dye or other like or similar staining, discoloring or coloring agent or any type of offensive or noxious liquid, agent or substance at such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, member, probation officer or active individual member, or (5) such person throws or hurls, or causes to be thrown or hurled, any bodily fluid including, but not limited to, urine, feces, blood or saliva at such peace officer, special policeman, motor vehicle inspector, firefighter, employee, physician, nurse, member, probation officer or active individual member. For the purposes of this section, "public transit employee" means a person employed by the state, a political subdivision of the state, a transit district formed under chapter 103a or a person with whom the Commissioner of Transportation has contracted in accordance with section 13b-34 to provide transportation services who operates a vehicle or vessel providing public rail service, ferry service or fixed route bus service or performs duties directly related to the operation of such vehicle or vessel.

(b) Assault of public safety, emergency medical, [or] public transit or health care personnel is a class C felony. If any person who is confined in an institution or facility of the Department of Correction is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for assault of an employee of the Department of Correction under this section, such term shall run consecutively to the term for which the person was serving at the time of the assault.

(c) In any prosecution under this section involving assault of a health care employee, as defined in section 1 of this act, it shall be a defense that the defendant is a person with a disability as described in subdivision (13), (15) or (20) of section 46a-51 and the defendant's conduct was a clear and direct manifestation of the disability.

Approved July 13, 2011