Between 2011 and 2013, approximately 74 percent of all reported workplace assaults occurred in the healthcare and social services industry, according to a publication by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Workplace violence accounts for over 10 percent of all injuries that caused healthcare employees to miss work. The significant risk of injury faced by those in the healthcare industry suggests a need for focused workplace violence prevention.
In an attempt to lower the risk healthcare and social services employees face, OSHA recently released an updated version of the Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers. In the publication OSHA sets forth a number of employer best practices that are aimed to help healthcare organizations incorporate violence prevention into their safety programs.
According to OSHA, all healthcare workers should receive a written workplace violence prevention program. These programs should effectively work to reduce or eliminate the risk of violence faced by workers basked on the type, size and complexity of a facility's operations. The basic components of good workplace violence prevention programs include:
- Commitment by management
- Employee participation
- Detailed worksite analysis
- Hazard prevention and control
- Safety and health training
- Accurate recordkeeping
- Ongoing program evaluation
These new guidelines are particularly helpful because they are unique to healthcare and social services. They work to address problems faced specifically by healthcare and social services workers, such as violent patients. The OSHA publication incudes charts for engineering controls, such as alarm systems and metal detectors, and suggests a number of work practice controls, such as tracking patients with a history of violence and responding promptly to incidents.
It should be noted that OSHA's guidelines are voluntary. It is up to every facility to put safety protocols in place to ensure their employees are protected.