On April 2, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its 1996 and 2004 guidelines for protecting healthcare and social service workers from workplace violence. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 70 percent of the 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work occurred in the healthcare and social service industries. The revised guidelines seek to reduce that number by identifying the best ways to reduce the risk of violence for workers in a variety of healthcare and social service settings, including hospitals, residential treatment facilities, neighborhood clinics, group homes, and patients’ homes.
The new guidelines outline the risk factors associated with working in the healthcare and social service arena, such as working directly with individuals who have a history of violence. The guidelines also emphasize the importance of developing a workplace violence prevention program and identify the building blocks of an effective program, including: management commitment and employee participation, worksite analysis and hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, and recordkeeping and program evaluation. The guidelines describe each program component in detail and provide checklists to help employers recognize situations that may place workers at risk of assault.
OSHA recommends that employers use the guidelines to develop suitable workplace violence prevention programs as well as solicit feedback from workers to ensure that the program reflects their needs and experience.