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April 05, 2013
New law aimed at violence against social workers

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently signed legislation to protect social workers. The bill requires all direct service providers who receive funding from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to implement workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans.

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The law affects social workers, human services workers, and volunteers. Response plans must be updated at least annually based on an assessment of risk factors, including:

  • Working in high-crime areas or those with known security problems,
  • Working outside normal business hours,
  • Working alone, and
  • Working with people in crisis or who have a history of violent behavior.

The law requires affected employers to prepare a written violence prevention and crisis plan and develop a system of recording all incidents or threats of violence. Employers must maintain a violence prevention and response team to monitor compliance and help employees who are harmed or threatened at work.

The bill came in response to the murder of a social worker stabbed by a young client during a routine home visit.

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