Employees of a Brooklyn medical facility were allegedly exposed to head, eye, face and groin injuries and intimidation and threats during routine interactions with patients and visitors. An inspection by OSHA reportedly found approximately 40 incidents of workplace violence between February 7 and April 12, 2014. These incidents involved employees who were threatened or physically and verbally assaulted by patients and visitors, or when breaking up altercations between patients. The most serious incident was an assault of a nurse, who sustained severe brain injuries when she was attacked while working. As a result of its alleged failure to adequately protect its employees against workplace violence, the medical center faces $78,000 in fines.
“The hazard of violence against employees is well-recognized in the health care industry and known to this employer,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. He added that the facility “must actively and effectively implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Program immediately to ensure the safety and well-being of its workers.”
Elements of an effective workplace violence prevention program could include, but not be limited to:
- Administrative controls, including job site hazard assessment, evaluation of existing controls, implementing new policies and procedures and incident reviews.
- Engineering controls, including installing panic alarm systems and protective barriers, and configuring treatment areas to maximize an employee’s ability to escape workplace violence.
- Personal protective equipment, including personal alarm systems for staff and an appropriate system and way to contact security/correctional officers.
- Training encompassing workplace violence prevention, stress management, recognition of the signs of potential violence and post-incident procedures and services to treat traumatized employees involved in a workplace violence incident.
Guidelines for preventing workplace violence for health and social service workers are available from OSHA and may be found here.