OSHA focuses on preventing workplace violence in the healthcare sector

Healthcare workers are put at risk every day simply by going to work. What can you do to help?

Ensuring worker safety is vital in every industry, especially for those in the health care field.

Ensuring worker safety is vital in every industry, especially for those in the health care field.

How dangerous is it to work in the healthcare field? There are many risks associated with this line of work such as exposure to illnesses, long-fatigue inducing hours and lack of ergonomics awareness. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a new website to address the ongoing safety challenges healthcare workers face, especially in terms of workplace violence.

According to recent OSHA statistics, the healthcare sector experienced the most days away from work of any private industry and its workplace violence rate is more than three times greater than the rate of all private industries.

The workplace violence rates per 100,000 full-time workers were:

  • 14.4 cases in 2014
  • 16.2 cases in 2013
  • 15.1 cases in 2012

Days away from work were:

  • 164,440 in 2014
  • 167,150 in 2013
  • 168,360 in 2012

“OSHA is very focused on the health care industry in a lot of aspects, but particularly in relation to workplace violence,” said Nickole Winnett, a Reston, Virginia-based shareholder at law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. “They think the industry can definitely do more than what they’re doing.”

The website was launched last week designed to provide resources for healthcare employees to further develop and implement actions against workplace violence. One of these actions is highlighted a few times throughout the website, the ability to de-escalate a situation. During health scenarios, tempers can flare when speaking with family members, as well as helping patients that may be on a prescribed medication. During this time, workers are encouraged to protect themselves by minimizing the risk of patient agitation.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities should keep the following tips in mind from the latest OSHA publication on health and safety including:

  • Analysis of hazards: Processes and procedures must be in place to protect workers. These can only be established if concerns are evaluated for risk beforehand. Take an initial assessment of potential issues and move forward from there.
  • Management commitment and employee participation: Real change cannot be enacted unless everyone is on board with said change. When it comes to safety, establishing guidelines and protocols for emergency situations can save lives. By communicating issues openly, more can be done to prevent health concerns.
  • Safety and health training: Once an assessment is made, and communication between employees is ensured, training can then ensue. Training should be developed with workers in mind and remain repeated and accessible throughout the year.

Training and development of employees can protect health and wellness, as well as overall business goals. It is the responsibility of the employers to protect its employees. Consider creating a new safety plan or revamping the latest changes with this information in mind.


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