The US state of Massachusetts has made it a statutory requirement for all state-run agencies to have workplace violence prevention plan in place for social workers, after a local social worker was stabbed to death by one of her service user’s on a home visit in 2008.
According to Wicked Local, the law now requires all direct services to service users which are operated by, licensed, certified or funded by a department of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to have a workplace violence prevention and crisis response plan in place. This should be updated at least annually.
Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick (pictured above), signed the legislation last month in response to a recommendation by the National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) safety taskforce, which convened after the death of Diruhi Mattian in 2008.
We know from past research that the majority of UK social workers have experienced some form of violence in the line of duty. Perhaps our government could learn a lesson from Massachusetts; pass similar legislation and make it clear to employers that steps can and should be taken to keep social workers safe.
Photo credit: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features