Nonprofit Resource: OSHA’s Guidelines for Preventing Violence for Healthcare and Social Workers

I highly recommend that you click on this link and read the Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers by OSHA.

I pray that OSHA is cool with quoting a large chunk of their report, but I wanted to list some of the bullet points they include regarding the special risk factors for those who work in healthcare and social service settings (especially those who work for medicaid funded social service centered healthcare such as serving developmental disabled and elderly communities).

From pages 4 and 5 of the report:

Patient, Client and Setting-Related Risk Factors

  • Working directly with people who have a history of violence, abuse drugs or alcohol, gang members, and relatives of patients or clients;
  • Transporting patients and clients;
  • Working alone in a facility or in patients’ homes;
  • Poor environmental design of the workplace that may block employees’ vision or interfere with their escape from a violent incident;
  • Poorly lit corridors, rooms, parking lots and other areas;
  • Lack of means of emergency communication;
  • Prevalence of firearms, knives and other weapons among patients and their families and friends; and
  • Working in neighborhoods with high crime rates.

Organizational Risk Factors

  • Lack of facility policies and staff training for recognizing and managing escalating hostile and assaultive behaviors from patients, clients, visitors, or staff;
  • Working when understaffed—especially during mealtimes and visiting hours;
  • High worker turnover;
  • Inadequate security and mental health personnel on site;
  • Long waits for patients or clients and overcrowded, uncomfortable waiting rooms;
  • Unrestricted movement of the public in clinics and hospitals; and
  • Perception that violence is tolerated and victims will not be able to report the incident to police and/or press charges.

The report goes on to offer suggested steps toward putting together a prevention program.

One of the key benefits of taking the advice in this report is that you will, over time, create a more stable and attractive environment for quality employees and for more competitive rates for your insurance, especially your workers compensation.

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