Tuesday, April 21, 2015

OSHA Releases Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence

Lyn Bentley, MSW

OSHA recently released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers. The publication includes industry best practices and provides some insight on how to reduce the risk of violence in various health care and social service settings. In the document, OSHA recommends that health care providers develop an effective workplace violence prevention program that includes: (1) Management commitment and employee participation, (2) Worksite analysis/Tracking and Trending, (3) Hazard prevention and control, (4) Safety and health training, and (5) Recordkeeping and program evaluation.

The new guidance is not necessarily groundbreaking in its approach but it does include helpful charts and guides related to the five key program components that provide additional guidance on how to implement these elements. Of particular note and worthy of checking out is the specific suggestions related to hazard prevention including engineering, administrative, and work practice controls that can be implemented (see pages 13-21). While some of these may be costly or difficult to implement, there are some suggestions that could easily be implemented. 

OSHA also recommends that all incidents of workplace violence be investigated that include determining the root cause, involving employees in the investigation, and identifying near misses too (see pages 23-24). In addition, there are a list of training topics that OSHA recommends should be covered with employees, supervisors, and security officials – some of them you may not be currently covering with your employees. (see pages 25-27).

OSHA also provides a detailed program evaluation/risk assessment checklist that you may find useful (see pages 30-39).

Reissuing updated guidance suggests to me that OSHA may devote more time and resources to investigating claims of workplace violence in the hospital and residential care environments. It may be a good time to look over your program and consider your risk. 

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