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Letters | trying to learn from workplace tragedy

Bill would push social work agencies to focus on safety

KUDOS TO the Globe for once again highlighting the issue of social worker safety in the workplace and the tragic story of Stephanie Moulton (“Giving voice to slain social worker’’, B1, 2/8/12). The Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has been a leading voice on the issue of workplace safety for social workers since 2008, when social worker Diruhi Mattian was stabbed to death on a home visit. Recommendations from our statewide task force indicated that legislation was essential to increase safety in the workplace for social workers and their clients.

In response, working with Representative Sean Garballey and Senator Sal DiDomenico, we filed a bill in January 2011 that would require agencies to establish safety plans for workers and to annually review factors that may put social workers, human services workers, volunteers, and other employees at risk of workplace violence. Factors would include working outside normal business hours, working alone, working with people in crisis, and working with people with known histories of violent behavior.

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Social workers know that those with mental illness are not typically violent, and are often saddled with untrue stigma that needs to be countered. At the same time, our bill is important, as it would institute safeguards for agencies to systematically review and address potential risks.

The time to act is now, and we urge the Legislature to pass House Bill 3864.

Carol Trust

Executive director

Massachusetts chapter

National Association of Social Workers

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