Protecting Health Care and Social Services Employees from Workplace Violence

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Workplace violence is a serious issue that affects thousands of workers every year. Unfortunately, up to 74 percent of workplace assaults occur in the health care and social services setting. Those employed at urban emergency departments, geriatric long-term care facilities, and acute psychiatric care facilities are at particular risk for being assaulted at work. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to increase security and ensure that their employees are safe and protected from violent attacks by patients, their family members, or other individuals.

Workplace violence can occur anywhere, but it is more common in the following high-risk settings:

  • Hospitals and other large health care facilities
  • Nursing homes, alcohol and drug treatment centers, psychiatric facilities, long-term care facilities, and other residential treatment facilities
  • Clinics and mental health centers
  • Community-based residential facilities and group homes
  • Home visits by social services or home health care workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have specific regulations concerning workplace violence, although it offers employers guidelines to protect their workers. The guidelines cover things such as worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention, and safety and health training. The first step in any prevention program should be a thorough assessment to identify existing hazards that could lead to workplace violence.

Recommendations for Preventing Workplace Violence

Employers can improve workplace safety by implementing the following hazard prevention and control measures:

  • Engineering controls:
    – Improve security and alarm systems
    – Install metal detectors and assign a trained staff member to use equipment and remove weapons
    – Install closed-circuit video inside and outside the facility
    – Establish safe rooms for emergencies, and ensure the employees know where emergency exits are located
    – Protect receptionists with bulletproof glass, and provide staff with secure bathrooms
    – Install locks on doors
    – Secure drug cabinets with working locks
  • Administrative controls and work practices:
    – Communicate to patients and visitors that violence will not be tolerated
    – Have trained security officers who can effectively respond to aggressive, violent behavior
    – Report all incidents to document a history of violence
    – Do not conduct intimate physical examinations of a patient without another worker present
    – Enforce a “buddy system” for all workers, particularly at night or in emergency areas
    – Provide escorts to dark parking areas during evening hours
  • Training records and program evaluation
    – Ensure that all workers are trained on workplace violence prevention and retrained when necessary
    – Provide additional specialized training for security personnel and counselors so they are prepared to handle threats of violence

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Compensation for Victims of Workplace Violence

If you were assaulted at work, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. You are entitled to a safe work environment where you do not have to worry about being physically assaulted or threatened. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with the claims process and secure the maximum financial benefits you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.