New Sinema Bill Improves Workplace Safety for Social Workers and Health Professionals

Nov 18, 2019

Sinema, a social worker, introduced new bipartisan legislation to protect social and health professionals, who are at increased risk of workplace violence

WASHINGTON – Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen workplace protections for social workers and home and behavioral health professionals.
The Senators’ bipartisan Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act establishes a grant program to fund workplace safety programs for social workers and health professionals, ensuring these public servants can continue doing their jobs safely. 
“As a social worker, I’ve seen firsthand the critical roles that nurses, social workers, and other caseworkers serve in Arizona’s communities. Strengthening workplace safety shows our appreciation for social workers and health professionals and will help recruit and retain qualified specialists to serve vulnerable Arizona families,” said Sinema. 
“The congressional sponsors of the Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act of 2019 recognize the dangers that too many social workers and health professionals face on the job. Whether they work in office settings or out in the community, these vitally important professionals deserve to be free of verbal and physical assault. This legislation will go a long way towards providing the safe workplaces, which benefits not only social workers but their clients, who are best served in violence-free settings,” said Kathryn Conley Wehrmann, PhD, MSW, LCSW, President, NASW.
“Every day, social workers across Arizona work on the front lines to transform the lives of the individual clients, families and communities they serve. We commend Senator Sinema for standing up for social workers and fighting to ensure they are provided with the tools, resources and workplace protections needed to serve and strengthen our communities.”  Brandie Reiner, MSW, Social Worker and Executive Director, NASW Arizona Chapter

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that health and social service workers were nearly five times as likely to suffer a serious workplace violence injury than workers in other sectors. Sinema’s Protecting Social Workers and Health Professionals from Workplace Violence Act establishes a grant program for social, health, and human service professionals within the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the implementation of state and tribal workplace safety programs. Specifically, the grants will be used for safety equipment, safety training, and technical assistance to track violence incidence rates and the efficacy of workplace safety programs.
Sinema earned a Master of Social Work from Arizona State University and worked as a social worker serving elementary school children in Sunnyside, Arizona. Currently, Sinema is a lecturer in ASU’s School of Social Work. Sinema also employs social workers to serve as caseworkers in her Arizona offices.
Click HERE for Spanish version of release.