Why Better Workplace Safety Reporting Is Needed

AFSCME California is a co-sponsor of SB 363, a bill that would require California to improve the way it tracks incidents of workplace violence at state prisons and hospitals.

Several of our members spoke on the importance of the legislation at a hearing this month in Sacramento.

At the hearing, one of our sisters, Halie Williams, a prison psychologist and member of AFSCME Local 2620, said that workers are assualted physically, verbally and sexually on a daily basis—and many of the violent incidents go unreported.

Not that long ago, Williams shared in her testimony, she was "gased" as she walked into a room to see a patient. The term "gased" means that she had a full cup of urine thrown at her. Williams said incidents like this happen often to workers and they are just expected to go back to work the next day as if nothing ever happened.

"By tracking these (incidents) appropriately, not only can we see these numbers but it will also hopefully help people prevent this from happeneing again and again," Williams said. "As of right now, this information is not readily available."

Workplace violence isn't just a problem in prisons and state hospitals. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, healthcare workers all across the country endure physical and verbal abuse—primarily from patients—on a daily basis.

Yet many choose to remain silent because, for years, violent outbursts have been considered part of the job.

Check out the video to see how AFSCME is leading the fight to make workplace safety a priority in California.