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OSHA Releases New Guidelines For Workplace Violence Prevention

Last month, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, also referred to as OSHA, released updated guidance for employees and employers regarding violence in the workplace. According to the United States Department of Labor’s press release on the update, “more than 23,000 significant injuries [occurred] due to assault at work.” For workers involved in social services and health care, the risk of suffering an injury as the result of workplace violence is four times higher than other occupations. 

In order to combat these risks, OSHA released an updated version of its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Services Workers. The new document provides industry best practices and key highlights regarding the most effective methods for reducing the risk of workplace violence in healthcare and social services settings. The guidelines are geared toward helping employers create and implement measures that will effectively reduce–and ideally eliminate–workplace violence hazards.

The existing guidelines on workplace violence for medical and social services workers had not been updated since 2004. The new version includes key research performed over the last decade regarding the main causes of workplace violence in these settings, the specific risk factors that these employees face when working with patients who are prone to violent behavior, and the best measures that can be used to prevent injuries from occurring. Additionally, the guidelines underscore the importance of creating a workplace violence prevention program and putting that program in writing.

The guidance document encourages employers to include specific components in the written violence prevention program, including record keeping, employee participating, worksite analysis, management’s commitment to enforcing the program, hazard prevention and control, and health and safety training. The program also encourages employers to create a system for program review to ensure that the provisions are effective and appropriately tailored to each work environment.

Additionally, the guidelines provide Workplace Violence Program Checklists, which enable employers to quickly and effectively see where their existing programs may be lacking. For example, the checklist items ask whether employees enter areas that have a high crime rate, whether employees work alone, and whether someone is responsible for building security.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970, every employer has a legal duty to create a safe and healthful work environment for its employees. Situations involving social services and medicine can present unique challenges, particularly when dealing with patients who have mental disabilities and certain physical health conditions. As a result of these unique dangers, employers must work diligently to prevent and control any outbursts of violence in the workplace and to provide workers with the resources they need to learn how to deal with these situations safely and effectively.

At The Hoffman Firm, we understand firsthand just how difficult it can be to suffer an injury while on the job. Filing for workers’ compensation benefits is a confusing and stressful process, which can be especially troublesome to navigate while recovering from a severe physical injury. Our lead attorney, Evan Hoffman, has over 28 years of experience with workers’ compensation law and helping accident victims assert their rights. If you have suffered an injury at work as the result of an unsafe condition or your employer’s failure to maintain a safe workplace, we can help. Call us now at (800) 223-1866 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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