Violence in the workplace

“More assaults occur in the health care and social services industries than in any other,”

Vilence against healthcare
Health professional been attacked
   “Of greater concern is the likely under-reporting of violence and a persistent perception within the health care industry that assaults are part of the job. Under-reporting may reflect a lack of institutional reporting policies, employee beliefs that reporting will not benefit them, or employee fears that employers may deem assaults the result of employee negligence or poor job performance.”  –          Occupational Safety and Health Administration report, 1998. In a 2014 survey, almost 80 percent of nurses reported being attacked on the job within the past year. If anything the amount of violence we are seen in the healthcare community is escalating, yet the actions to combat the same and protect healthcare professionals is not keeping up with the threat.   We all have heard about patients or relatives attacking and even killing those in their path.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason and the only certainty is that it will happen again. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) mandates that all employers have a general duty to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards.  While at the time OSHA was created they didn’t consider violence in the workplace a threat it has been determined that the same does fall under workplace recognized hazards.  As a matter of fact the following interpretation has come into light based on this trend:

  •  OSHA relies on Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, for enforcement authority.
  • Employers can be cited for violating the General Duty Clause if there is a recognized hazard of workplace violence in their establishments and they do nothing to prevent or abate it.
  • Health care and social service workers face a significant risk of job-related violence.

Based on this trend several states have passed laws making it a felony to assault a health-care worker, but only a few have included provisions for violence-prevention training and incident reporting.  However, the Department of Labor and OSHA, both recommend the implementation of a “Violence Prevention Plan” and have gone as far as providing a template as to what needs to be covered under the same. We at Taino Compliance have gone as far as to create a seminar series were we cover: Overall background and resources

  • History
  • Trends

Legal Issues

  • Definitions     
  • Applicable Laws

Types of Workplace Violence

  • Consequences
    • Attacker
    • Victim

How to address threats and threatening behavior

  • Workplace Program
  • Communication techniques
  • Self-defense techniques

The key issue to remember is that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment yet I recommend every healthcare professional to take the initiative and learn their rights and to have a plan on what to do under these circumstances.