Safety

Worker wellness: Workplace violence

Hospital Safety Insider, December 1, 2016

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Learn how to protect your workers from intruders and other violent incidents in your facility


Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an occasional series of stories that will address the common types of dangers faced by healthcare workers, and how safety professionals can help prevent them.

Workplace violence in healthcare facilities continues to be one of the most dangerous hazards facing healthcare workers across the United States, and it’s not getting better.

Despite a nationwide crackdown on workplace violence by OSHA and other regulatory agencies, healthcare workers in hospitals and other medical facilities still experience violence-related injuries requiring days off at a rate at least five times higher than that for private-sector workers overall, according to published statistics. Estimates on the number of injuries annually vary, but for 2011 (the most recent numbers), ranged as high as 80,710. The most common types of reported assaults are hitting, kicking, and beating. See the OSHA fact sheet about workplace violence on p. x for more information.

Although labor groups view an OSHA standard as a more effective means for protecting workers from hazards, OSHA has not issued a standard for workplace violence. Instead, the agency has issued voluntary guidance on appropriate controls, such as alarm systems and specialized worker training. In April 2015, OSHA, in a document known as 3148, updated its guidance to include setting-specific recommendations that address the risks to nurses, social workers, and others in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, community-based residential care, and fieldwork.

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