Newswise — Rosemont, Ill. (AANA) –The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA), along with the support of nearly 60 nursing affiliates and partner associations, has signed a letter to leaders of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) urging them to immediately release their proposed workplace violence prevention standard. April is Workplace Violence Prevention Awareness Month, and AANA continues to raise awareness and inspire action through its advocacy and policy work.

This letter to OSHA comes a year after the agency officially began its rulemaking process to address workplace violence in healthcare. As workplace violence continues to spike across the country, AANA is supporting voices from across the nursing profession and country to push OSHA to finish this critical work and implement a national standard of comprehensive prevention programs in all settings of care. Many states have stepped in to pass mandatory violence prevention programs, yet there is no national standard protecting nurses across the country.

"As healthcare providers, it is our duty to prioritize patient safety above all else, including our own fellow healthcare workers, but that can be a challenge in today’s current workplace environment," said AANA President Dru Riddle, PhD, DNP, CRNA, FAAN. “CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States. It is paramount they are safe and protected as they work to provide for their patients.”

The letter states OSHA has a leading responsibility to mitigate this violence and its consequences. A mandatory OSHA standard requiring national reporting of these incidents is a vital first step in preventing them. OSHA’s 2016 voluntary guidelines lead employers through an evidence-based process to create internal reporting systems, risk assessments, and tailored and specific prevention strategies that avoid “one-size-fits all” solutions.

However, OSHA released its guidelines over eight years ago, and it is still not common practice in most healthcare workplaces despite the alarming increase in violence rates. OSHA began the rulemaking process for this standard with the completion of the Small Business Advocacy Review in May 2023. OSHA acknowledged in its report of the Review that healthcare and social assistance workers now face nearly six times the risk of workplace violence than other industries.

“Across the nation, CRNAs provide safety and care in all healthcare settings, and deserve a national OSHA standard followed by effective enforcement,“ said Riddle. “Our healthcare providers cannot continue to wait for this vital protection. It has been a year since OSHA began its rulemaking, and AANA urges OSHA to finish its rulemaking process for this standard and release a proposed rule for public comment without further delay.”