Physician Practice

OSHA updates violence prevention guidelines

Physician Practice Insider, May 5, 2015

OSHA has announced a huge change to guidelines that could help protect healthcare workers from the rising problem of workplace violence. In April, OSHA released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers, known to many in the safety field as OSHA Rule 3148.

OSHA says in 2013 more than 23,000 significant injuries were caused due to assaults at work. More than 70% of these assaults were in healthcare and social service settings. And statistics show approximately 30% of the fatalities in healthcare and social service settings that occurred in 2013 were due to assaults and violent acts, according to OSHA.

Under pressure to do something about this, the updated OSHA Rule 3148 recommends that all healthcare facilities develop an effective workplace violence prevention program. The new OSHA guidelines are very specific in the types of workplace controls that employers should consider, especially when it comes to facility security and keeping track of employers. Examples include:

  • The use of silent alarms and panic buttons in hospitals and medical clinics
  • Providing safe rooms and arranging furniture to make sure there are clear exit routes for workers and patients
  • Installing permanent or hand-held metal detectors to detect weapons, and providing staff training on the use of these devices
  • Protecting front-end and triage staff using facility design elements such as deep counters, secure bathrooms for staff separate from patient treatment areas, and bulletproof glass and lockable doors with keyless entry systems

In addition, the recommendations include employing administrative controls designed to track patients and visitors who have a history of violence, to better educate workers on the dangers and signs of impending violence, and to ensure better reporting procedures. Some of these recommendations include:

  • Providing clear signage in the facility that violence will not be tolerated
  • Instituting procedures that require off-site staff to log in and log out, as well as checking in with office managers periodically
  • Keeping a behavioral history of patients, including identifying triggers and patterns

Also, OSHA recommends that employers provide updated training for employees, including information about:

  • Risk factors that cause or contribute to violent incidents
  • Early recognition of escalating behavior or recognition of warning signs
  • Ways to recognize, prevent or diffuse volatile situations or aggressive behavior, manage anger, and appropriately use medications
  • Proper use of safe rooms—areas where staff can find shelter from a violent incident

For more information, read the Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.

This article was excerpted from the OSHA Healthcare Advisor blog.
 

Most Popular