Who Is Protecting Healthcare Professionals? Workplace Violence & the Occupational Risk of Providing Care
- Monica M. Nevels (University of Central Missouri) | Wesley Tinker (University of Central Missouri) | John N. Zey (University of Central Missouri) | Tricia Smith
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- July 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 39 - 43
- 2020. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 3 in the last 30 days
- 3 since 2007
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- Healthcare providers are one of the highest risk groups for workplace violence.
- The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. and in need of the expertise of multidisciplinary teams that include OSH professionals.
- Despite efforts to push this issue into the spotlight, the tenacity of those passionate about prevention will be needed for a federally mandated rule to come to fruition.
- To make measurable and meaningful impact, employers must also respond to this risk as it impacts not only employees, but those they serve.
In response to the increasing number of violent incidents resulting in fatalities, injuries and lost workdays in the healthcare industry (Figure 1, p. 40), several unions and National Nurses United (NNU, 2019) petitioned OSHA for a standard to prevent workplace violence. OSHA (2020a) granted the petition on Jan. 10, 2017, which has since been on the unified agenda in the pre-rule stage with the public comment period closing April 6, 2017. Although no federal rule is currently in place to directly address this exposure, nine state OSHA plans have developed workplace violence prevention rules (OSHA, 2020a). In the past few years, OSHA has taken several actions, moving closer to a workplace violence prevention standard. Early in 2016, OSHA (2016a) published an advisory document titled “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers” that updated the voluntary guidelines of 1994 and 2004. In January 2017, the public comment period opened and OSHA (2017) published an enforcement directive updating the enforcement procedures and scheduling for enforcement of occupational exposure to workplace violence. Although practitioners, labor unions and governmental agencies have conducted studies on violence in the workplace, specifically in the healthcare sector, the issues are still largely governed by use of the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970. Despite General Duty Clause citations being issued for workplace violence exposure in healthcare, the industry continues to experience one of the highest numbers of related injuries compared to all other private industries (OSHA, 2016a).
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