On Dec. 7, 2016, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published a request for information (RFI) to solicit information on a potential standard to prevent workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance settings. Currently, federal OSHA has no standard addressing prevention of workplace violence for healthcare facilities. OSHA’s RFI follows the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (Cal/OSHA’s) action on Oct. 21, 2016, adopting a state standard intended to reduce workplace violence against healthcare workers in California. As discussed in a prior alert, Cal/OSHA’s standard is by far the strictest occupational safety and health regulation in the country governing workplace violence for healthcare workers.

To proactively prepare for the new standard, the healthcare industry should be actively involved in the comment period. Preparing and submitting comments to federal OSHA may influence OSHA to adopt a standard that does not contain problematic language such as is in the Cal/OSHA standard. Comments or materials may be submitted to federal OSHA until April 6, 2017. OSHA will also hold a public meeting on Jan. 10, 2017, for interested parties to comment. Companies should consult a team well-versed in OSHA law that can help navigate the rulemaking process and submit comments to federal OSHA as it considers the new standard.