A local legislator’s proposed plan seeks to better protect medical personnel from abuse.

State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville testified Tuesday afternoon before the House Judiciary Committee in support of a pair of bills that will strengthen penalties against those committing acts of workplace violence against health care workers. In 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, reported that health care workers suffered more than 15,000 injuries a year from workplace assaults. Vaupel says that this growing threat to health care providers must be taken seriously, and that tougher penalties will demonstrate that violence is not tolerated in hospitals or other health care facilities in the state.

His plan would add health care professionals and medical volunteers to a protected group of workers that already includes police officers, firefighters, and EMT personnel. Attacks on these professionals can result in a felony with enhanced penalties. If passed, Michigan would join 32 other states that already have heal;th care workers on the protected list. Vaupel said that like first responders, health care workers have an obligation to help people, and are more and more often putting their own safety on the line. House Bills 4327-28 remain under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. (MK)